Agriculture: Alfalfa Pest Management Guidelines

Summer Black Stem and Leaf Spot

  • Cercospora medicaginis
  • Symptoms and Signs

    Symptoms of summer black stem and leaf spot usually appear after the alfalfa has grown a dense canopy. Defoliation from the base of the stem to the top is the most obvious symptom, but leaf spots usually appear first. Leaf spots begin as brown areas with a wavy margin. As spores on the surface of the spot are produced, the color of the spot appears gray or silvery. A diffuse yellow margin often surrounds the spot. Brown lesions also form on stems. Disease development is favored by high humidity (close to 100%) and temperatures ranging from 75 to 82°F.

    Comments on the Disease

    Summer black stem is a disease of limited importance and has been observed primarily in the Imperial Valley.


    Harvest early before extensive defoliation occurs to minimize losses.

    Text Updated: 03/17