Effect of Temperature and Moisture on Survival of Phytophthora in Citrus Grove Soil
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AbstractBefore replanting a citrus grove in Arizona, different preplant cultural activities may be performed, such as immediate replanting of the new citrus grove, allowing soil to lay fallow for various lengths of time, or planting the site to alfalfa for one or more years before the new citrus grove is established. A study was conducted to compare the effect of these different cultural preplant practices on the survival of Phytophthora in citrus grove soils. In June, 1998, and July, 1999, a total of 18 soil samples were collected within mature lemon groves. Each initial bulk sample was pretested, found to contain Phytophthora parasitica, then thoroughly mixed and partitioned into 1-liter plastic containers, which were subjected to different environmental and cultural conditions. The soil in each 1-liter container was tested for the presence of P. parasitica 1 and 3.5 to 4 months later. All soil samples then were placed in the greenhouse and a 6-month-old Citrus volkameriana seedling was planted in soil samples not containing plants. Three 1-liter sub-samples from each of ten 7-liter volumes of soil incubated outside for three months were also planted to citrus in the greenhouse. The soil containing plants in the greenhouse was watered as needed for 3 months, then again tested for the presence of Phytophthora. Irrigating soil infested with Phytophthora parasitica, whether it was planted to a host (citrus) of the pathogen, planted to a non-host (alfalfa) of the pathogen, or not planted at all, did not lower the pathogen to nondetectable levels. Phytophthora became and remained nondetectable only in the soil samples that were not irrigated and subjected to mean temperatures of 35 to 37° C (94 to 98° F). On the other hand, the pathogen was detectable in some soil samples subjected to dryness at lower mean temperatures of 26 to 30° C (79 to 86° F) after a citrus seedling subsequently was grown in the soil for 3 months. A dry summer fallow period following removal of a citrus grove (including as much root material as possible) was the only cultural practice among those tested that reduced the level of Phytophthora to nondetectable levels in all soil samples tested.