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Rhizopus Head Rot of Confectionery Sunflower: Effects on Yield Quantity and Quality and Implications for Disease Management

December 1997 , Volume 87 , Number  12
Pages  1,226 - 1,232

D. Shtienberg

Department of Plant Pathology, ARO, The Volcani Center, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel

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Accepted for publication 25 August 1997.

The effects of Rhizopus head rot, caused by Rhizopus oryzae, on the yield of confectionery sunflower and its quality were studied in field experiments conducted from 1994 to 1996. The extent of yield loss was related to the crop growth stage at inoculation. When heads were inoculated at the budding stage, loss was not apparent, because inoculated heads were not infected. When inoculated at the anthesis stage, loss was relatively high (42.5 to 99.1%), and both the number of achenes per head and the individual achene weight were reduced. When heads were inoculated at the seed development stage, yield was not reduced significantly (although the entire receptacle was rotted). Effects of Rhizopus head rot on measures of yield quality were examined as well. Inoculation with R. oryzae did not affect the size of the achenes at any crop growth stage. In contrast, the incidence of discolored achenes (an external sign of nutmeats with a bitter off-flavor) was affected by the disease at all crop growth stages. A survey in eight commercial fields from 1992 to 1996 found that, by the end of the season, incidence of disease ranged from 2.3 to 17.4%. However, since disease intensified late, resultant yield losses were minor and did not exceed 3.1%. Loss figures were estimated by means of a model that was developed and validated in the field experiments. The disease did affect the incidence of discolored achenes. Thus, the conclusion drawn is that the effects of Rhizopus head rot in confectionery sunflower on crop yield is of minimal concern, at least when disease intensifies late, as was the case in the studied fields, but management of the disease should be considered in some situations. The objectives would be to prevent a reduction in yield quality, not yield quantity.

Additional keywords: Helianthus annuus, yield loss assessment.

© 1997 The American Phytopathological Society