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Broadleaf Weed Management a Component of Integrated X-disease Management

To reduce the risk of transmission, removal of infected trees is key. It is also important to suppress or manage weeds present in your orchards, because the leafhoppers are attracted to the weeds, which they like to feed on.

X-disease phytoplasma infects most Prunus species, ex. cherries, peaches, nectarines, almonds, plums, and chokecherry. X-disease phytoplasma also infects a wide range of broadleaf plants. Previous work found dandelion, knotweed, goosefoot (lambsquarter), sagebrush, chickweed, mallow, alfalfa, puncture vine, tumble mustard, and flixweed were hosts (Jensen 1971). In a 2021 to 2023 survey 52 of 77 species tested were positive for X-disease phytoplasma (Harper et al in prep). Plants from six families had significant numbers of positives including members of the Asteraceae (dandelion), Malvacea (mallow), Amaranthaceae (goosefoot/ lambsquarter & pigweed), Polygonaceae (knotweed), Brassicaceae (flixweed, tumblemustard, hoary bittercress, & shepherd’s purse), and Plantaginaceae (plantain). See full list.


Planting grass in drive rows can reduce peak leafhopper numbers by approximately 50% compared to weedy drive rows (Northfield unpublished 2023). Leafhoppers cannot survive on grasses (Northfield and Cooper 2020).


Broadleaf-specific herbicide applications applied to the drive row can reduce leafhopper vector numbers by up to 50%, likely by reducing the preferred habitat for the leafhoppers (Northfield unpublished data). Time one spring broadleaf weed spray when weeds are small and before they develop seeds. A spring root sucker spray and a fall weed spray is another option. Pre-emergent herbicides for example pendimethalin (Prowl H20), norflurazon (Solicam DF) and residual herbicides for example indaziflam (Alion), rimsulfuron (Matrix SG), penoxsulam (Pindar GT), and post emergence herbicides for example pyraflufen-ethyl (eg. Venue), glyphosate (eg. Roundup Powermax), clopyralid (eg. Stinger, Agristar Spur), and glufosinate-ammonium (eg. Rely 280) are labeled for cherry tree rows. In addition to the tree row area generally targeted for weed management, consider herbicide applications that reduce broadleaf weeds in the grass strip using products that won’t kill grasses for example clopyralid (eg. Stinger, Agristar Spur) and pyraflufen-ethyl (eg. Venue). Watch your preharvest intervals.

Additional information

X-disease webpage

Alternative weedy hosts for X-disease phytoplasma

Little Cherry Virus webpage

Symptoms Gallery

X-disease Vector Gallery

Nursery Prevention of X-disease Phytoplasma and Little Cherry Virus Recommendations

BMPs for tree removal for X-disease and Little Cherry Virus infected trees

Case studies on tree removal for X-disease phytoplasma and Little cherry virus


Symptoms of Little Cherry Virus and X-disease Phytoplasma.

Síntomas de Fitoplasma X y Little Cherry Virus.

Symptoms of X-disease Phytoplasma in Stone Fruit.

Síntomas de Fitoplasma X en Frutas de Hueso.

Perennial weed alternative hosts for X-disease phytoplasma

dandelion plant with two yellow flowers on the ground
green plants with tall, thin stalks and oval leaves

Annual weed alternative hosts for X-disease phytoplasma

plant with feathery green stalks along the ground
green plant with tiny white flowers and arrowhead-shaped leaves
green arrowhead-shaped, serrated leaves
brown stalk with green feathery leaves and a yellow blossom along the ground
Puncture Vine
ground plant with umbrella-like, serrated green leaves


Corina Serban professional photo
Corina Serban
WSU Extension
(509) 574-1595
Tianna DuPont
Tianna DuPont
WSU Extension
(509) 293-8758
Bernardita Sallato professional photo
Bernardita Sallato
WSU Extension
(509) 439-8542
Scott Harper professional photo
Scott Harper
Department of Plant Pathology, Washington State University
(509) 786-9230
tobin northfield professional photo
Tobin Northfield
WSU Entomology
(509) 293-8789



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