N. G. Dafermos,
A. M. Kasselaki, and
D. E. Goumas, School of Agricultural Technology, Technological Educational Institute of Crete, Heraklion-Crete, Greece;
K. Spantidakis, Bioplakias, Plakias, Greece; and
M. D. Eyre and
C. Leifert, Nafferton Ecological Farming Group, Newcastle University, Stocksfield, Northumberland, UK
Powdery mildew is a serious economic problem in Mediterranean tomato production. The disease is currently controlled by fungicides (especially sulfur) in both conventional and organic production. Four factorial greenhouse experiments were conducted in successive cropping seasons (autumn 2005, autumn 2006, spring 2006, and spring 2007) to assess the main and combined effects of (i) a less-susceptible hybrid (‘Elpida’), (ii) chitin soil amendment, or (iii) Milsana or chitosan elicitor foliar treatments on the severity of powdery mildew and crop performance. Analysis of variance revealed significant effects of cropping season on disease severity and crop yield. All control practices reduced disease severity; reductions of approximately 40, 30, 15, and 15% were achieved by Milsana foliar treatment, the use of a less-susceptible hybrid, chitosan foliar treatment, and chitin soil amendment, respectively. In the season with the highest disease pressure, higher yields were obtained with the less-susceptible hybrid Elpida whereas, in the three seasons with no or low disease pressure, the use of the more susceptible hybrid ‘Bison’ produced higher yields. Milsana and sulfur treatments did not significantly affect yield (yields were slightly lower compared with untreated control plants) and, therefore, their use cannot be recommended based on the results obtained.