Researchers at Washington State University are hoping a $1.3 million federal grant will help them combat a Grinch-like fungal disease that causes headaches for Christmas tree growers.

Researchers at Washington State University are hoping a $1.3 million federal grant will help them combat a Grinch-like fungal disease that causes headaches for Christmas tree growers.

The Spokesman-Review says ( http://is.gd/mCgbez) the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the grant to Gary Chastagner at Washington State University, and a team of researchers at other universities.

They’re studying Phytophthora root rot, a fungal disease that costs the Christmas-tree industry millions of dollars every year. An infestation could wipe out 75 percent of a tree grower’s field.

Phytophthora thrives in damp, poorly drained places like the Pacific Northwest, which grows 40 percent of the nation’s Christmas trees.

There is no effective control for Phytophthora, so researchers are hoping to identify resistant tree species.

Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesman.com