Downy mildew (Blue mold) is probably the most common spinach disease in most parts of the world, and it can be a problem in the mid-South. Frequently, other diseases such as white rust and fusarium cause major crop loss. The Arkansas breeding program was initiated 25 years ago to address white rust and fusarium, as well as other diseases that destroy spinach crops. Since single gene resistance is not available for most spinach diseases, it was necessary to utilize polygenic resistance to develop varieties that are resistant to most of the common spinach diseases that occur in the Arkansas River Valley of Arkansas and Oklahoma. Highly resistant genotypes have been developed by using disease nurseries and field screening, so frequent selections are made based on the reaction to 3-4 diseases.
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