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Incorporation of Weather Forecasting in Integrated, Biological-Chemical Management of Botrytis cinerea

March 1997 , Volume 87 , Number  3
Pages  332 - 340

D. Shtienberg , and Y. Elad

Department of Plant Pathology, Agricultural Research Organization, The Volcani Center, P.O. Box 6, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel

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Accepted for publication 5 December 1996.

A strategy for integrated biological and chemical control of Botrytis cinerea in nonheated greenhouse vegetables was developed. The biocontrol agent used was a commercial preparation developed from an isolate of Trichoderma harzianum, T39 (Trichodex). Decisions concerning whether to spray the biocontrol agent or a fungicide were made based on a weather-based disease warning system. The integrated strategy (BOTMAN [short for Botrytis manager]) was implemented as follows: when slow or no disease progress was expected, no spraying was needed; when an outbreak of epidemics was expected, use of a chemical fungicide was recommended; in all other cases, application of T. harzianum T39 was recommended. Future weather information (a 4-day weather forecast provided by the Israel Weather Forecast Service) was more useful for disease warnings than immediate past weather. The integrated strategy was compared with weekly applications of fungicide in 11 experiments conducted over 3 years in greenhouse-grown tomato and cucumber. Disease reduction in the integrated strategy (63.9 ± 3.0%) did not differ significantly (P < 0.05) from the fungicide-only treatment (70.1 ± 3.6%). The number of fungicide sprays in the integrated strategy ranged from 2 to 7 (mean 4.2) compared to 7 to 13 (mean 10.5) in the fungicide treatment. The integrated strategy averaged 5.9 sprays of T. harzianum T39. For the integrated strategy, one treatment omitted use of T. harzianum T39 to estimate the contribution of this agent to disease control. Disease reduction in that treatment (49.1 ± 4.8%) was significantly (P < 0.05) inferior to the combined chemical and biological strategy, indicating that the T. harzianum T39 sprays had a measurable effect on disease control.

© 1997 The American Phytopathological Society