P. J. Figuli, and
M. E. Matheron, Division of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson 85721;
K. V. Subbarao, Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis 95616; and
B. M. Pryor, Division of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson 85721
Field experiments were conducted over 2 years in Yuma County, AZ, and Imperial County, CA, to determine the efficacy of several biocontrol agents for the management of lettuce drop caused by Sclerotinia spp. Commercial formulations of Trichoderma harzianum (Plantshield, Supersivit), Gliocladium virens (Soilgard), Coniothyrium minitans (Contans), and Bacillus subtilis (Companion) were evaluated and compared with the chemical fungicide iprodione (Rovral) against Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and S. minor. A single application of biocontrol products or of Rovral did not reduce lettuce drop caused by either Sclerotinia species. However, two applications of Contans, one at planting and one at post-thinning, significantly reduced the incidence of lettuce drop caused by S. sclerotiorum and increased yield but had no effect on S. minor at both locations in both years. Two applications of other biocontrol products did not significantly reduce disease incidence despite medium to high recovery following application. In contrast, Contans was only sporadically recovered following application. In vitro fungicide sensitivity evaluation revealed that both Trichoderma and Gliocladium species were tolerant to iprodione, dicloran (Botran), and vinclozolin (Ronilan) up to 1,000 ppm a.i., whereas both Sclerotinia spp. and C. minitans were sensitive to all three fungicides above 1 ppm. In summary, Contans was the most effective treatment for the control of lettuce drop caused by S. sclerotiorum, but no treatment was effective against S. minor in the desert lettuce production systems.