Effect of Fungicides and Lettuce Cultivar on Severity of Botrytis Gray Mold: 2007 Study
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AbstractGray mold, caused by the fungus Botrytis cinerea, usually has been considered a minor disease in field-grown lettuce. However, for the past two lettuce production seasons, the incidence of this disease has increased significantly in Southwestern Arizona lettuce fields. Most of the infected fields were planted to romaine lettuce; however, some iceberg lettuce plantings were involved as well. The occurrence of gray mold was most prevalent during February and March. The primary symptoms of the disease include plant wilting accompanied by a fuzzy gray growth at the plant base, which contains masses of airborne spores. Sclerotia may also be present on infected tissue. Infected plants that show these symptoms usually wilt and die. Botrytis cinerea can survive on crop debris, as a pathogen on numerous crops and weed hosts, and as sclerotia in soil. Airborne spores that land on senescent or damaged lettuce stems and leaves germinate and rapidly colonize this tissue. Once established, the pathogen grows into adjacent healthy stems and leaves. A field trial was established to 1) evaluate the effectiveness of some fungicides to reduce the incidence of Botrytis gray mold and 2) compare the susceptibility of some lettuce cultivars to this disease. Botrytis gray mold did not develop in plots of the crisphead cultivar 'Winterhaven'; however, the disease was present in all plots planted with cultivars of romaine lettuce. Among the tested romaine cultivars, Botrytis gray mold incidence was lowest in 'A 35585-1', 'Fresh Heart' and 'Rome 59' in untreated plots as well as in plots treated four times with the fungicides Rovral, Endura, or Switch. On the other hand, disease incidence was highest on the cultivar 'Green Towers' in untreated plots as well as those treated with one of the three tested fungicides. To compare the ability of tested fungicides to control Botrytis gray mold, the disease incidence values for each of the five romaine cultivars treated with each specific fungicide were pooled together and compared to disease levels recorded on untreated plants. Foliar applications of treatments were made Jan 24, Feb 1, Feb 16 and Feb 28, 2007. A 31% reduction in disease was recorded on romaine lettuce plants treated with Switch, whereas a 17% reduction in Botrytis gray mold was observed on plants treated with Endura. Rovral did not significantly reduce Botrytis gray mold in this trial. Additional field trials are planned to verify these initial findings.