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Incorporation of Temperature and Solar Radiation Thresholds to Modify a Lettuce Downy Mildew Warning System

June 2002 , Volume 92 , Number  6
Pages  631 - 636

B. M. Wu , A. H. C. van Bruggen , K. V. Subbarao , and H. Scherm

First and third authors: Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis, c/o U.S. Agricultural Research Station, 1636 E. Alisal St., Salinas 93905; second author: Biological Farming Systems, Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Netherlands; and fourth author: Department of Plant Pathology, University of Georgia, Athens 30602

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Accepted for publication 19 February 2002.

The effect of temperature on infection of lettuce by Bremia lactucae was investigated in controlled environment studies and in the field. In controlled conditions, lettuce seedlings inoculated with B. lactucae were incubated at 15, 20, 25, or 30°C during a 4-h wet period immediately after inoculation or at the same temperatures during an 8-h dry period after the 4-h postinoculation wet period at 15°C. High temperatures during wet and dry periods reduced subsequent disease incidence. Historical data from field studies in 1991 and 1992, in which days with or without infection had been identified, were analyzed by comparing average air temperatures during 0600 to 1000 and 1000 to 1400 Pacific standard time (PST) between the two groups of days. Days without infection had significantly higher temperatures (mean 21.4°C) than days with infection (20.3°C) during 1000 to 1400 PST (P < 0.01) but not during 0600 to 1000 PST. Therefore, temperature thresholds of 20 and 22°C for the 3-h wet period after sunrise and the subsequent 4-h postpenetration period, respectively, were added to a previously developed disease warning system that predicts infection when morning leaf wetness lasts ≥4 h from 0600 PST. No infection was assumed to occur if average temperature during these periods exceeded the thresholds. Based on nonlinear regression and receiver operating characteristic curve analysis, the leaf wetness threshold of the previous warning system was also modified to ≥3-h leaf wetness (≥0900 PST). Furthermore, by comparing solar radiation on days with infection and without infection, we determined that high solar radiation during 0500 to 0600 PST in conjunction with leaf wetness ending between 0900 and 1000 PST was associated with downy mildew infection. Therefore, instead of starting at 0600 PST, the calculation of the 3-h morning leaf wetness period was modified to start after sunrise, defined as the hour when measured solar radiation exceeded 8 W m-2 (or 41 μmol m-2 s-1 for photon flux density). The modified warning system was compared with the previously developed system using historical weather and downy mildew data collected in coastal California. The modified system was more conservative when disease potential was high and recommended fewer fungicide applications when conditions were not conducive to downy mildew development.

Additional keywords: disease forecasting, Lactuca sativa .

The American Phytopathological Society, 2002