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gooseberries and powdery mildew

We purchased a gooseberry last year. It got powdery mildew and lost its leaves. This spring it came back with lush leaf growth and has not had the mildew, but it has brown spots that just developed. Some leaves are turning completely brown. Any suggestions?
On the east coast in NY we had huge prolific berried bushes that didn’t seem to have any of the problems we are having here in Snohomish County.


Powdery mildew is certainly a known problem for gooseberries here, but there are other diseases that show up as spotting on the leaves. The Royal Horticultural Society describes mildew on gooseberries. Cornell University’s Department of Horticulture has a guide to currants and gooseberries which describes several other problems affecting the leaves of these plants.

We can’t diagnose the problem remotely, but compare your plant’s symptoms with this information about anthracnose from Washington State University’s HortSense website:

“Anthracnose is a fungal disease affecting the leaves of currants and gooseberries. Leaves show small, round or irregularly-shaped spots on the upper or lower surfaces. The spots are usually dark brown in color and may develop tiny, gray fungal structures in the centers. Severely affected leaves may turn yellow and drop prematurely. The leaf loss can weaken plants and reduce yields. Currant fruit may also show spotting. On fruit, the spots are tiny and resemble flyspecks. Severely infected berries crack open and drop. The fungus is spread from infected to healthy leaves by splashing water and overwinters in fallen leaves. Disease development is favored by wet spring weather.
Avoid overhead watering.
Rake fallen leaves from beneath plants. Destroy or discard (do not compost) diseased plant materials. Cultivation to bury diseased leaves may also be effective.
Space plantings and prune to provide good air circulation and reduce humidity.”

It would be worth having a your local county extension agent test the affected foliage before you attempt to treat the problem.

Just as an aside, gooseberries do well in areas that have good winter chilling and humid summers, which sounds more like parts of the East Coast than our winter wet/summer dry Northwest. The website of California Rare Fruit Growers describes the native ranges of gooseberries:

“Gooseberries are derived mostly from two species: the European gooseberry (Ribes grossularia), native to the Caucasus Mountains and North Africa; and the American gooseberry (R. hirtellum), native to northeastern and north-central United States and adjacent parts of Canada. So-called European cultivars are pure species, but virtually all so-call American cultivars also have European genes.