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Relationship Between Sugarcane Rust Severity and Soil Properties In Louisiana

June 2007 , Volume 97 , Number  6
Pages  748 - 755

Richard M. Johnson , Michael P. Grisham , and Edward P. Richard , Jr.

United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Southern Regional Research Center, Sugarcane Research Unit, 5883 USDA Rd., Houma, LA 70360.

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Accepted for publication 11 January 2007.

The extent of spatial and temporal variability of sugarcane rust (Puccinia melanocephala) infestation was related to variation in soil properties in five commercial fields of sugarcane (interspecific hybrids of Saccharum spp., cv. LCP 85--384) in southern Louisiana. Sugarcane fields were grid-soil sampled at several intensities and rust ratings were collected at each point over 6 to 7 weeks. Soil properties exhibited significant variability (coefficients of variation = 9 to 70.1%) and were spatially correlated in 39 of 40 cases with a range of spatial correlation varying from 39 to 201 m. Rust ratings were spatially correlated in 32 of 33 cases, with a range varying from 29 to 241 m. Rust ratings were correlated with several soil properties, most notably soil phosphorus (r = 0.40 to 0.81) and soil sulfur (r = 0.36 to 0.68). Multiple linear regression analysis resulted in coefficients of determination that ranged from 0.22 to 0.73, and discriminant analysis further improved the overall predictive ability of rust models. Finally, contour plots of soil properties and rust levels clearly suggested a link between these two parameters. These combined data suggest that sugarcane growers that apply fertilizer in excess of plant requirements will increase the incidence and severity of rust infestations in their fields.

Additional keywords: fertility levels, spatial variability.

The American Phytopathological Society, 2007