First and third authors: Department of Plant Pathology; second author: Department of Statistics, Iowa State University, Ames 50011
Regional prevalence of soybean Sclerotinia stem rot (SSR), caused by Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, was modeled using tillage practices, soil texture, and weather variables (monthly air temperature and monthly precipitation from April to August) as inputs. Logistic regression was used to estimate the probability of stem rot prevalence with historical disease data from four states of the north-central region of the United States. Potential differences in disease prevalence between states in the region were addressed using regional indicator variables. Two models were developed: model I used spring (April) weather conditions and model II used summer (July and August) weather conditions as input variables. Both models had high explanatory power (78.5 and 77.8% for models I and II, respectively). To investigate the explanatory power of the models, each of the four states was divided into small geographic areas, and disease prevalence in each area was estimated using both models. The R2 value of the regression analysis between observed and estimated SSR prevalence was 0.65 and 0.71 for models I and II, respectively. The same input variables were tested for their significance to explain the within-field SSR incidence by using Poisson regression analysis. Although all input variables were significant, only a small amount of variation of SSR incidence was explained, because R2 of the regression analysis between observed and estimated SSR incidence was 0.065. Incorporation of available site-specific information (i.e., fungicide seed treatment, weed cultivation, and manure and fertilizer applications in a field) improved slightly the explained amount of SSR incidence (R2 = 0.076). Predicted values of field incidence generally were overestimated in both models compared with the observed incidence. Our results suggest that preseason prediction of regional prevalence would be feasible. However, prediction of field incidence would not, and a different site-specific approach should be followed.