Diagnostician/Research Specialist, University of Kentucky, Lexington 40546
Professor, University of Minnesota, Northwest Research and Outreach Center, Crookston 56716
Professor, University of Minnesota, St. Paul 55108
Spatial distribution of Aphanomyces cochlioides inoculum and disease was assessed in sugar beet fields located near Moorhead, MN and Wahpeton, ND. Soil samples were collected in June and July 1994 from two main plots (60 by 60 m) in each field. Samples were evaluated for A. cochlioides using a sugar beet seedling assay in the greenhouse to determine a root rot index value (0-to-100 scale), which served as an indirect estimate of relative activity and density of inoculum. Field evaluations of Aphanomyces root rot on sugar beet (0-to-7 scale) were made at harvest in September at each soil collection site. Greenhouse root rot index values correlated positively with field disease ratings for all plots. Variance-to-mean ratios of greenhouse root rot index values and of field disease ratings among samples within each plot were calculated to compare the spatial distribution of midseason inoculum with root rot at harvest. Ratios of greenhouse root rot indices indicated that inoculum of A. cochlioides was aggregated in the field at midseason, but root rot was uniform within plots by harvest. Wet weather in July through August was conducive to infection and development of symptoms. A uniform distribution of disease at harvest likely reflects a combination of factors, including root growth into inoculum foci, redistribution of inoculum, and inoculum densities that are spatially variable but all above some minimum threshold for infection.