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Using Soil-Applied Fungicides to Manage Phytophthora Crown and Root Rot on Summer Squash

January 2013 , Volume 97 , Number  1
Pages  107 - 112

M. D. Meyer and M. K. Hausbeck, Department of Plant Pathology, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824

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Accepted for publication 12 August 2012.

Phytophthora crown and root rot (Phytophthora capsici) of summer squash is especially difficult to manage because all commercial cultivars are highly susceptible to P. capsici. Producers have traditionally relied on foliar fungicide applications to control Phytophthora crown and root rot despite their limited efficacy. Soil fungicide applications, including via subsurface drip chemigation, have recently gained interest as a method of improving control of P. capsici infections. In this study, soil drenches and foliar applications of 11 fungicides were compared for control of Phytophthora crown and root rot of summer squash in replicated field and greenhouse trials. Fungicides were applied at 7-day intervals. Incidence (%) of plant death was assessed from 7 to 42 days post inoculation (dpi) in field trials. Crown rot severity was rated on a scale of 1 (no wilting) to 5 (plant death) from 5 to 21 dpi in greenhouse trials. Results of field and greenhouse trials were similar. Plant death of ‘Cougar’ following inoculation with P. capsici isolate 12889 occurred at all growth stages from first true-leaf to full maturity in field trials. Plant death 42 dpi differed significantly (P ≤ 0.0001) among fungicides and application methods. The fungicide–application method interaction also was significant. Some fungicides were ineffective regardless of application method. In general, soil drenches were more effective than foliar applications at limiting plant death but no treatment completely controlled disease symptoms. Mean plant death 42 dpi was 41% for soil drenches and 92% for foliar sprays. Drenches of fluopicolide, mandipropamid, or dimethomorph limited plant death to ≤10% and prevented yield loss associated with root and crown rot. Foliar applications generally did not reduce plant death compared with the untreated, inoculated control, and were unable to prevent yield loss in field trials. In greenhouse trials, crown rot severity differed significantly (P ≤ 0.0001) among fungicides, application methods, and cultivars when plants were inoculated with P. capsici isolate 12889 or SP98. Crown rot was less severe and disease progress was slower following soil drenches than foliar applications. Some fungicide treatments were more effective on ‘Leopard,’ which was less susceptible to P. capsici than ‘Cougar.’ Soil application methods, including soil drench and drip chemigation, should be evaluated when fungicides are registered for soilborne disease control, because these methods provide better control of Phytophthora crown and root rot than foliar application.

© 2013 The American Phytopathological Society