Pitch canker, caused by Gibberella circinata (syn. Fusarium circinatum), was recently detected in nurseries damaging Pinus radiata (Monterrey pine) plants in the Conception area of Chile. In Chile, as in South Africa (1994), the disease is confined to nursery stock and has yet to be found in P. radiata plantations, which form the basis of the local forestry industry in Chile and many other countries in the Southern Hemisphere. In Chile, infected plants die rapidly, displaying resin exudation and pitch-soaked lesions near the root collar area.
Pitch canker is considered one of the most serious diseases of pines in the world, and is regarded as being endemic to the southeastern US, where it was described in the early 1900's. In the late 1980's, pitch canker appeared in California, where it continues to wreak havoc on native populations of Monterrey pine, which has proven to be highly susceptible to infection by F. circinatum. Other hosts include Pinus taeda (loblolly pine), P. strobus (white pine), P. ponderosa, and Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas fir). The disease may be transmitted by infected wood, and several insects are suspected vectors. It should be noted that, until recently, the pitch canker fungus was known as Fusarium subglutinans f.sp. pini.