The effects of three nitrogen fertilization treatments on the development of rice blast were studied on eight cultivars under field conditions in Arkansas in 1995 and 1996. The eight cultivars (Kaybonnet, Cypress, Lacassine, Mars, Adair, Alan, Newbonnet, and RT7015) ranged from resistant to susceptible to blast according to previous field observations. The recommended nitrogen levels for the eight cultivars varied from 123 to 168 kg/ha/year. Three treatments, consisting of different rates and timing of nitrogen applications, were tested over 2 years at one location. The first treatment consisted of a single nitrogen (N) application applied to plots at the recommended rate at preflood during the midtillering stage. The second treatment consisted of applying nitrogen as a single preflood application but at 1.5 times the recommended N rate used in treatment one. The third treatment (control) consisted of applying the recommended amount of nitrogen fertilizer used in treatment one, but in a three-way-split application with 56 to 100 kg/ha (depending on the cultivar) of urea applied at preflood followed by the application of 34 kg/ha of N applied approximately 10 and 20 days after the panicle differentiation (PD) growth stage. Inoculated spreader plots were used to initiate rice blast epidemics in the test plots. The results indicate that the disease progress for rice blast, regardless of N treatments, followed a unimodal curve, whereby disease incidence and total lesion area per plant reached a maximum near midseason (PD growth stage) and then gradually declined. This decline in disease was attributed to adult resistance, leaf senescence, and the formation of new (noninfected) leaves. Application of nitrogen above the recommended rate for any given cultivar significantly increased disease incidence and total lesion area per plant on all cultivars except Kaybonnet, a highly resistant cultivar. Furthermore, a differential cultivar response to nitrogen was observed when measuring both disease incidence and total lesion area per plant. Leaf blast was significantly more severe on the susceptible and very susceptible cultivars when N fertilizer was applied as a single application at preflood than in the split application treatment. Nitrogen treatments did not significantly affect the incidence of collar rot or neck blast.
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