Garden Talk

with Rebecca Jordi

I think I have rust on my figs, what should I do?

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Fig Rust

Fig Rust

Fig rust, caused by the fungus Cerotelium fici (formerly Physopella fici), is the most common disease of figs in most regions of the southeastern U.S.  Fig rust occurs only on the leaves and does not affect the fruit directly. Rust generally develops late in the summer, and in years when disease is severe, it can cause the trees to defoliate in a matter of a few weeks. If this happens on a regular basis, the overall growth of the trees can be reduced and yields can be affected. Initially, symptoms of fig rust are visible as small, yellowish spots on the upper surface of the leaves. As these spots (or lesions) grow larger, they turn a reddish-brown color but remain relatively smooth. On the lower surface of the leaf, the lesions are a reddish-brown color and have a slightly raised, blister-like appearance. Heavily infected leaves often turn yellow or brown, particularly around the edges, and drop prematurely. There are no fungicides registered for use on edible figs in Florida so this is one of those conditions we call “grin and bear it.” It is important to remove and throw away infected leaves once they fall to the ground but little else can be done.

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