Agriculture: Grape Pest Management Guidelines

Botrytis Bunch Rot

  • Botrytis cinerea
  • Symptoms and Signs

    Prior to fruit ripening, early-season shoot blight may occur following prolonged warm moist conditions caused by frequent spring rains. Patches of soft brown tissue develop resulting in the death of the infected plant part. Infections often occur in leaf axils causing shoots to wilt or break off. At veraison, individually infected berries in a cluster turn brown on white cultivars or reddish in red and black cultivars. If temperatures are moderate, moisture is high, and wind speed is low, epidermal cracks will form in which fungal growth produces mycelium and spores, resulting in the char­acteristic gray, velvety appearance of infected berries.

    Comments on the Disease

    The fungus overwinters as sclerotia most commonly in berry mummies on the ground or left hanging on the vine and in canes. After rain or irrigation the sclerotia germinate and produce spores, that are moved by air currents or splashing rain. Infections require free water for a definite period of time depending on temperature. Flowers can become infected through the stigma and scar tissue on the receptacle (tip of the pedicel) left by the detachment of the calyptra during bloom; generally the fungus then becomes dormant until late in the season when sugar concentration increases in the infected berry. The fungus then resumes growth and spreads throughout the berry. Infected berries split and leak, thus allowing the pathogen to grow and sporulate on berry surfaces and spread to adjoining berries by mid-season. Spores from infected fruit can directly infect intact, ripe berries as harvest approaches. Late-season infections are most severe when relative humidity exceeds 92%, free moisture is present on the fruit surface, and temperatures are in the 58° to 82°F range. Berries that have been damaged by insects, birds, machinery, etc. may become infected at any time after the fruit begins to ripen because the juice in the berry can provide the necessary water and nutrients for fungal growth.


    Successful management of Botrytis bunch rot can be achieved through the use of several strategies. By employing cultural control methods, properly applying fungicides, and using resistant cultivars when practical, the disease can be managed.

    Cultural Control

    Designing vineyards to the anticipated vigor of the site conditions will produce balanced canopies with moderate shoot vigor that optimizes leaf and cluster exposure and can reduce the conditions that promote Botrytis bunch rot. Canopy management practices such as shoot thinning, hedging, and leaf removal can be used to manage canopy density when appropriate. Removal of basal leaves immediately after berry set has resulted in significantly reduced incidence and severity of disease. In warmer growing areas, be careful not to remove excessive numbers of leaves, which can lead to sunburned fruit. This condition is made worse when leaves are removed later in the season especially on canopies with southern and western afternoon exposures. If leaves are removed at fruit set, the berries acclimate readily to the sunlight and develop a thicker cuticle that helps prevent sunburn as well as Botrytis infection.

    The efficacy of a fungicide depends on getting good coverage, and coverage is affected by the canopy and stage of growth. If leaves are not removed and the interior of the canopy remains dry in the spring, one fungicide application should be made sometime between bloom and pea-size berries. Otherwise, apply sprays before rainfall especially at bloom or after veraison. Grapes expected to be harvested late in the season should be treated prior to bunch closure and as needed prior to harvest for table grapes that will be stored for an extended period.

    Avoid unnecessary irrigation or nitrogen fertilization that may promote excessive canopy growth. Manage insect populations that feed and produce entry wounds that promote Botrytis infections.

    Organically Acceptable Methods

    Canopy management and other cultural control methods along with sprays of Organic JMS Stylet Oil and Serenade are organically acceptable methods.

    Monitoring and Treatment Decisions

    Look for flagging shoot tips or entire shoots or numerous brown irregular lesions on leaves in the spring during rapid shoot growth especially when warm moist conditions occur. If the entire shoot is flagging, look for a hole at the base, which could indicate feeding by branch and twig borer.

    If basal leaves are not removed, apply fungicides before rain in northern central valley and coastal production areas to prevent flower infections. Research data shows a trend toward better control if fungicides are applied at bloom, preclose, and veraison. If leaf removal is practiced, then sprays can be limited to applications prior to wet weather during bloom (or none if no rain occurs). Thorough coverage is essential for all fungicide treatments.

    A fungicide application may also be warranted if a major rain is expected late in the season when grapes are nearly mature. Alternating fungicides with different modes of action within the season and/or between seasons is essential to prevent pathogen populations from developing resistance to classes of fungicides.

    At harvest, survey vineyards for Botrytis symptoms to assess the current season's management program and to plan for next year.

    Common name Amount per acre** REI‡ PHI‡
    (Example trade name)   (hours) (days)
    Not all registered pesticides are listed. The following are ranked with the pesticides having the greatest IPM value listed first—the most effective and least likely to cause resistance are at the top of the table. When choosing a pesticide, consider information relating to the pesticide's properties and application timing, honey bees, and environmental impact. Always read the label of the product being used.
    Note: Treatments can be made in conjunction with plant growth regulators and other applications.
    (Vangard WG) 10 oz 12 7
    MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER1): Anilinopyrimidine (9)
    COMMENTS: Do not apply more than 20 oz/acre per season. Rate is 5 to 10 oz if tank-mixed with another fungicide.
    (Elevate 50WDG) 1 lb 12 0
    MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER1): Hydroxyanilide (17)
    COMMENTS: Do not make more than two consecutive applications. Do not apply more than 3 lb a.i. product/acre per season.
    (Scala SC) 18 fl oz 12 7
    MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER1): Anilinopyrimidine (9)
    COMMENTS: Do not apply more than 36 fl oz/acre per season. Rate is 9 fl oz if tank-mixed with another fungicide.
    (Luna Experience) 8–8.6 fl oz 12 14
    MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER1): Succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor (7) and Demethylation inhibitor (3)
    COMMENTS: For use on wine grapes only. Do not make more than two consecutive applications; rotate to a fungicide with a different mode of action. The R.E.I. is 5 days for treated grapes when conducting cane tying, turning, or girdling of wine grapes. Do not apply more than 34 fl oz/acre per season.
    (Switch 62.5WG) 11–14 oz 12 7
    MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER1): Anilinopyrimidine (9) and Phenylpyrrole (12)
    COMMENTS: Do not apply in less than 21-day intervals. Do not make more than two consecutive applications; rotate to a fungicide with a different mode of action.
    (Inspire Super) 20 fl oz 12 14
    MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER1): Demethylation inhibitor (3) and Anilinopyrimidine (9)
    COMMENTS: Do not apply more than 2 consecutive applications; rotate to a fungicide with a different mode of action.
    (Rovral 4F) 1.5–2 lb 48 7
    MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER1): Dicarboximide (2)
    COMMENTS: Do not apply more than 4 times per season. Addition of a narrow range oil (superior, supreme) at 1% increases the effectiveness of this fungicide.
    (Pristine) 23 oz 12 14
    MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER1): Quinone outside inhibitor (11) and Carboxamide (7)
    COMMENTS: Do not apply on Concord, Worden, Fredonia, Niagara, and related varieties. Do not make more than 2 consecutive applications; rotate to a fungicide with a different mode of action. The R.E.I. is 5 days when conducting cane tying, turning, or girdling.
    (JMS Stylet) 1% 4 0
    MODE-OF-ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER1): A contact fungicide with smothering and barrier effects.
    COMMENTS: Foliage burn may occur if oil is applied within 2 weeks of sulfur or captan sprays. Oil will temporarily remove the 'bloom' on the berries; to avoid this, do not spray within 2 weeks of harvest.
    (Serenade Max) 1–3 lb 4 0
    ** Apply with enough water to provide complete coverage.
    Restricted entry interval (REI) is the number of hours (unless otherwise noted) from treatment until the treated area can be safely entered without protective clothing. Preharvest interval (PHI) is the number of days from treatment to harvest. In some cases the REI exceeds the PHI The longer of two intervals is the minimum time that must elapse before harvest.
    # Acceptable for use on organically grown produce.
    1 Group numbers are assigned by the Fungicide Resistance Action Committee (FRAC) according to different modes of actions. Fungicides with a different Group number are suitable to alternate in a resistance management program.

    Important Links

    Text Updated: 12/16
    Treatment Table Updated: 12/16