Regional
5:27 am
Wed January 14, 2009

Pistachio Tree Fungus Discovered

Las Cruces – Scientists at New Mexico State University have identified a potentially damaging fungus on area pistachio trees.

NMSU scientists have discovered Septoria leaf spot, a fungal disease in plants, on Otero, Hidalgo, Luna and Dona Ana County pistachio trees.

The disease is common in other states where pistachios are grown but has never been documented in New Mexico.

NMSU will hold a pistachio growers workshop in Alamogordo to help educate those close to the disease about minimizing its effects.

The Septoria fungus creates small, brown lesions on the leaves of the trees.

If enough lesions are present, the tree will have difficulty photosynthesizing, or turning sunlight into energy.

The fungus does not directly affect the tree's fruit, but continued difficulty photosynthesizing can have a negative effect on yield.

Each of the 20 southern New Mexico pistachio orchards tested by NMSU has been positive for Septoria.