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Temporal Dynamics of Brown Rot in Different Apple Management Systems and Importance of Dropped Fruit for Disease Development

September 2007 , Volume 97 , Number  9
Pages  1,104 - 1,111

I. J. Holb and H. Scherm

First author: Centre of Agricultural Sciences, University of Debrecen, P.O. Box 36, H-4015 Debrecen, Hungary; and second author: University of Georgia, Department of Plant Pathology, Athens 30602.

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Accepted for publication 3 April 2007.

Epidemic development of brown rot, caused by Monilinia fructigena, was monitored in integrated and organic apple orchards at two locations in eastern Hungary between 2002 and 2005 on three cultivars with early, midseason, and late ripening periods. Disease incidence and severity measures were affected significantly (P < 0.05) by management system (organic versus integrated) and cultivar, but there was no significant management system--cultivar interaction. Epidemics started 2 to 4 weeks earlier in organic orchards and on the early cv. Prima compared with integrated orchards and the late cv. Mutsu. Disease intensity increased markedly in the final 3 to 5 weeks before harvest and was considerably lower in integrated than in organic orchards. Final brown rot incidence on fruit in the tree was correlated with incidence on dropped fruit on the orchard floor (r > 0.75, P < 0.05), whereby the lag period from the appearance of the first symptomatic fruit on the ground to the occurrence of the first symptomatic fruit in the tree ranged from 2 weeks to 2 months, depending on the cultivar. The inflection point of the disease progress curve was attained first by fruit on the ground, followed successively by fruit in the lower, middle, and upper thirds of the tree canopy. This may indicate that dropped fruit that became infected early provided a source of inoculum for subsequent epidemics by serving as a bridge between sporulation from overwintered fruit mummies in the spring and the first fruit with sporulating lesions in the tree in midsummer. Removal of dropped fruit from the orchard floor resulted in a significantly lower disease incidence on fruit in the tree on all cultivars; thus, drop-removal may be useful as a brown rot management practice in apple orchards.

Additional keywords: disease management, Halus domestica.

© 2007 The American Phytopathological Society