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Comparison of Three Fungicide Spray Advisories for Lettuce Downy Mildew

August 2001 , Volume 85 , Number  8
Pages  895 - 900

B. M. Wu , K. V. Subbarao , Dept. of Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis, U.S. Agricultural Research Station, 1636 E. Alisal St., Salinas, 93905 ; A. H. C. van Bruggen , Biological Farming Systems, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Marijkeweg 22, 6709 PG Wageningen, The Netherlands ; and S. T. Koike , University of California Cooperative Extension, Salinas, 93901

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Accepted for publication 24 April 2001.

Lettuce growers in coastal California have relied mainly on protective fungicide sprays to control downy mildew. Thus, timing of sprays before infection is critical for optimal results. A leaf-wetness-driven, infection-based advisory system, previously developed, did not always perform satisfactorily. In this study, the advisory system was modified by incorporating a pathogen survival component (system 1) or both survival and sporulation components (system 2). These systems were then evaluated in commercial lettuce fields in coastal California during 1996-1998. Three or four treatments were carried out in each field: (i) no spray; (ii) sprays as scheduled by the growers; (iii) sprays following modified system 1; and (iv) sprays following the original advisory system (1996) or modified system 2 (1998). Downy mildew incidence was evaluated every 2 to 9 days. In fields with drip irrigation, the number of fungicide applications was reduced by one or two regardless of the advisory system used compared to the grower's calendar-based schedule, although one unnecessary spray was recommended in 1996 at Soledad and 1997 at Salinas. Under all three systems, disease levels were low (incidence <25% and about 1 lesion per plant) for fields with drip irrigation, but not for fields with sprinklers (incidence up to 100% and 5 to 10 lesions per plant). For the first time, we established that survival and sporulation components are not needed for a lettuce downy mildew forecasting system. Instead, a threshold with a shorter period of morning leaf wetness and high temperatures were found to have potential for improving forecasting efficiency.

Additional keywords: Bremia lactucae, weather

© 2001 The American Phytopathological Society