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The Epidemiology of Powdery Mildew on Concord Grapes

October 2001 , Volume 91 , Number  10
Pages  948 - 955

David M. Gadoury , Robert C. Seem , Andrea Ficke , and Wayne F. Wilcox

Department of Plant Pathology, Cornell University, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva 14456

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Accepted for publication 28 June 2001.

Vitis labruscana ‘Concord’ is a grape cultivar widely grown in the United States for processing into juice and other grape products. Concord grapes are sporadically but sometimes severely damaged by the grape powdery mildew pathogen, Uncinula necator. Although the foliage is often reported to be moderately resistant to powdery mildew, severe fruit infection occurs in some years. We observed the seasonal development of powdery mildew on leaves, rachises, and berries of unsprayed Concord grapevines. Inoculations of flower and fruit clusters revealed a brief period of berry susceptibility and a protracted period of rachis susceptibility. The rachis remained highly susceptible to infection, and the severity of rachis infection increased throughout the growing season until the rachis formed a periderm shortly before harvest. In contrast, berries were nearly immune to infection within 2 weeks after fruit set. Rachis and berry infections were detected before the disease was observed on foliage, and the incidence of rachis and berry infection often exceeded disease incidence observed on foliage until after fruit acquired substantial ontogenic resistance. Excellent control of fruit infection, and adequate control of leaf infection, was achieved by two fungicide applications targeted at the peak period of fruit susceptibility. Although Concord is thought to be moderately resistant to powdery mildew, the rachis is highly susceptible, and may be the avenue by which prebloom infections make their way onto the developing fruit. Late-season infection of the rachis neither spread to the fruit, nor did it cause fruit to drop prematurely, and may be of little economic consequence on fruit destined for processing. Although fruit of V. vinifera cultivars have been reported to remain susceptible to infection until berry sugar levels reach 8 to 15%, Concord fruit become nearly immune to infection nearly 6 weeks before this stage of development. Because powdery mildew does not become conspicuous on foliage until late summer, it is generally regarded as a late-season problem on Concord grapes, and previous management programs have reflected this belief. However, the greatest contribution to control of fruit infection is due to fungicides applied during the peak period of fruit susceptibility, from bloom until shortly after fruit set, long before the disease is observed on foliage.

Additional keywords: disease management , Oidium , ontogenic resistance .

© 2001 The American Phytopathological Society