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Suppression of Seedling Damping-Off Caused by Pythium ultimum, P. irregulare, and Rhizoctonia solani in Container Media Amended with a Diverse Range of Pacific Northwest Compost Sources

March 2005 , Volume 95 , Number  3
Pages  306 - 315

Steven J. Scheuerell , Dan M. Sullivan , and Walter F. Mahaffee

First author: Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, and second author: Department of Crop and Soil Science, Oregon State University, Corvallis 97331; and third author: U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agriculture Research Service, Horticulture Crops Research Laboratory, 3420 NW Orchard Ave., Corvallis, OR 97330

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Accepted for publication 29 November 2004.

Suppression of seedling damping-off disease caused by Pythium spp. and Rhizoctonia solani is a potential benefit of formulating soilless container media with compost. Thirty-six compost samples from Pacific Northwest commercial composting facilities were analyzed for a number of physical, chemical, and biological properties, including suppression of damping-off caused by Pythium ultimum, P. irregulare, and R. solani. The samples were produced from diverse feedstocks and composting technol ogies; this was reflected in a large degree of variability in the measured properties. When mixed with sphagnum peat moss and inorganic aggregates, 67% of the compost samples significantly suppressed P. irregulare damping-off of cucumber, 64% suppressed P. ultimum damping-off of cucumber, and 17% suppressed damping-off of cabbage caused by R. solani. Suppression of Pythium damping-off was related to the potential of compost to support microbial activity and a qualitative index of ammonia volatilization. Suppression of Rhizoctonia damping-off was not related to any one compost factor. Currently available compost products potentially could provide commercially acceptable control of damping-off caused by Pythium spp., but it is necessary to fortify composts with microbial antagonists for the control of R. solani.

The American Phytopathological Society, 2005