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Effects of Host Physiology on the Development of Core Rot, Caused by Alternaria alternata, in Red Delicious Apples

August 2012 , Volume 102 , Number  8
Pages  769 - 778

D. Shtienberg

Department of Plant Pathology and Weed Research, ARO, the Volcani Center, Bet Dagan, 50250, Israel.

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Accepted for publication 2 May 2012.

Alternaria alternata is the predominant fungus involved in moldy core and core rot of Red Delicious apples. The effects of environmental conditions during bloom on moldy core and core rot, and on the need for fungicide application, were examined in 10 experiments carried out in 2007. In untreated experimental plots, typical moldy core symptoms were very common, with relatively low variability (coefficient of variation: 22.2%) among experiments; core rot incidence ranged from 2 to 26% with large variability (coefficient of variation: 90.0%) among experiments. No evidence of prevailing environmental conditions during bloom affecting the development of moldy core or core rot was detected. No effect of fungicide application (a mixture of bromuconazole + captan three times a week at bloom) on moldy core or core rot was found. A random distribution of moldy core and an occasional aggregation of core rot in the orchards were indicated from Morisita's index of dispersion (Iδ). The hypothesis that core rot incidence is governed by host physiology and that yield load can be used as an indicator of trees' susceptibility was examined in a set of eight observations and four experiments. No correlation was found between tree yield load and moldy core, but core rot incidence was inversely related to yield load. Furthermore, irrespective of tree yield load, core rot was more abundant on large compared with small fruits. It is concluded that host physiology, rather than pathogen occurrence or environmental conditions at bloom stage, governs the development of core rot in Red Delicious apples caused by A. alternata in Israel.

Additional keywords: apple disease, moldy core disease.

© 2012 The American Phytopathological Society