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Fusiform Rust of Southern Pines: A Major Success for Forest Disease Management

August 2003 , Volume 93 , Number  8
Pages  1,048 - 1,051

Robert A. Schmidt

School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville 32611

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Accepted for publication 7 March 2003.

The effective management of fusiform rust in slash and loblolly pine plantations is a major success story for disease management scientists and practitioners in the southeastern United States. This disease, which reached epidemic proportions by the 1960s, resulted from anthropogenic causes associated with intensive pine culture and greatly inhibited the optimum management of slash and loblolly pine throughout extensive areas of the southern pine region. Successful management of this disease was made possible by the combined resources and personnel of federal and state agencies, universities, and the forest industry. Chief among these personnel were research pathologists, geneticists, and silviculturalists. Following early studies on the biology of the fusiform rust pathosystem, research on epidemiology, host resistance, and pathogen variability slowly but steadily progressed. Testing of pine selections for resistance was facilitated by the establishment of a rust screening center. Fortunately, genetic rust resistance is relatively abundant in both slash and loblolly pines and has become the foundation for the management of the disease. Rust resistant half- and full-sib progeny from resistant parents established in seed orchards are routinely planted, especially in high-rust-hazard areas. Several important lessons in disease management have been learned or remembered during the progress of this research. Perhaps the ecologically fit fusiform rust pathogen will have additional instructions for us in the future, but for now resistance is an effective management strategy.

© 2003 The American Phytopathological Society