Graduate Research Assistant, University of Florida-IFAS, Department of Plant Pathology, Gainesville 32607
Professor of Plant Pathology, University of Florida-IFAS, Department of Plant Pathology, Everglades Research and Education Center, Belle Glade 33430
Professor of Plant Pathology, University of Florida-IFAS, Department of Plant Pathology, Gainesville
Associate Professor of Plant Breeding, University of Florida-IFAS, Department of Horticulture, Everglades Research and Education Center, Belle Glade
Silicon, applied as calcium silicate slag (20% Si), was evaluated for its potential to suppress gray leaf spot (Magnaporthe grisea) and increase plant growth in newly planted St. Augustinegrass in the summers of 2000 and 2001. Calcium silicate was applied (1,000 kg Si/ha) to three sites that contained Si-deficient Histosols prior to sprigging St. Augustinegrass, cv. Floratam, in southern Florida. This treatment was compared with foliar sprays of chlorothalonil, calcium silicate plus chlorothalonil, and an untreated control. Immediately after planting, applications of chlorothalonil (720 g/liter) were made every 10 days for a total of seven sprays at a rate of 7.6 kg a.i./ha with a commercial sprayer. Based on area under the disease progress curve (AUDPC) values for the treatments calcium silicate alone, chlorothalonil, and calcium silicate plus chlorothalonil, gray leaf spot was reduced by 7, 65, and 68% at site one, 28, 34, and 59% at site two, and 41, 55, and 68% at site three, respectively when compared with the untreated control. The application of calcium silicate alone significantly reduced the final AUDPC of gray leaf spot when compared with the control at site two only. However, when disease severities were analyzed by week, the calcium silicate treatment significantly reduced the percentage of disease at weeks 2, 6, and 8 at site one and weeks 3 to 8 at site three when compared with the control. The final percent bare ground coverage for St. Augustinegrass was increased significantly using calcium silicate by 17 and 34% over the control at sites one and two, respectively (P ≤ 0.05). Silicon was the only element to significantly increase in the leaf tissue for treatments amended with calcium silicate. Levels of Si in leaves for treatments amended with calcium silicate were from 1.2 to 1.3%, while those not receiving calcium silicate had only 0.6 to 0.7%. Amendments with calcium silicate slag for St. Augustinegrass sod production on Si-deficient soils may be an option to reduce gray leaf spot development in newly sprigged fields and promote earlier ground coverage of grass when the environment is favorable for disease.