Gummy stem blight (GSB), caused by the fungus Didymella bryoniae, is the most destructive disease of watermelon and is managed primarily with fungicides. D. bryoniae has developed resistance to many fungicides that were once very effective, including azoxystrobin, boscalid, and thiophanate-methyl. Field experiments were conducted in Tifton (TN) and Reidsville (RV), GA in 2009 and 2010 to establish a relationship between frequency of resistance to a fungicide based on in vitro assays and its efficacy in the management of GSB. Frequency of resistance to boscalid, thiophanate-methyl, and azoxystrobin was >0.80 in isolates collected from nontreated plots in both locations and years. All isolates collected after six applications of boscalid, thiophanate-methyl, or azoxystrobin were resistant to the respective fungicide. All isolates collected from treated and nontreated plots were sensitive to tebuconazole and difenoconazole. GSB severity was assessed on a weekly basis from 63 days after planting. GSB severity in plots treated with boscalid, thiophanate-methyl, or azoxystrobin was not significantly different from that in the nontreated plots (39%, TN-2009; 45%, TN-2010; and 16%, RV-2010). GSB severity in tebuconazole-treated plots (27%, TN-2009; 14%, TN-2010; and 4%, RV-2010) was significantly lower than all other treatments and the nontreated control. There was a consistent negative association between frequency of fungicide resistance and disease control in the field. Thus, knowledge of the frequency of fungicide resistance in the pathogen population will be helpful in selecting the most effective fungicides for the management of GSB in watermelon fields.
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