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Suppression of Phytophthora Blight in Bell Pepper by a No-Till Wheat Cover Crop

March 1997 , Volume 87 , Number  3
Pages  242 - 249

Jean B. Ristaino , Gregory Parra , and C. Lee Campbell

Department of Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, 27695-7616

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Accepted for publication 13 December 1996.

Four mechanisms of dispersal of propagules of Phytophthora capsici were investigated through modifications in cultural practices and fungicide applications in field plots of bell pepper (Capsicum annuum). Dispersal of soil inoculum was suppressed, and final incidence of disease was 2.5 to 43% when stubble from a fall-sown, no-till, wheat cover crop was present. Final disease incidence was 71 to 72% and pathogen spread occurred within and across rows when all dispersal mechanisms were operative in plots of pepper planted into bare soil. Final disease incidence was 42 to 78% with black plastic mulch when a sporulating pepper fruit placed on the surface served as the source of initial inoculum. The fungicide metalaxyl applied in the irrigation system did not suppress within-row spread of surface inoculum from a sporulating fruit on plastic, but did limit across-row spread; final disease incidence in metalaxyl-treated plots was 11.5 to 14%. Pathogen dispersal mechanisms were modified most dramatically by the no-till cropping system. Thus, simple changes in cultural practices can have dramatic effects on the development of Phytophthora epidemics. Ecologically based disease management strategies have the potential to reduce our reliance on agrichemicals in this and similar pathosystems.

Additional keywords: epidemiology, sustainable agriculture.

© 1997 The American Phytopathological Society