Four sterilants-bactericides (Physan-20, Fixed Copper, Phyton-27, and Virkon) were compared as preplanting dips of Zantedeschia elliottiana Engl. W. Wats `Yellow' (a susceptible cultivar) rhizomes to reduce plant losses due to latent field-infected Erwinia carotovora soft rot during greenhouse forcing as a flowering potted plant. All sterilant solutions were prepared in combination with Promalin, a commercially available product containing gibberellic acid (GA) used to enhance flowering. An additional group of rhizomes was inoculated with E. carotovora sp. as a preplanting dip in combination with the GA treatment but were not treated with a bactericide. Rhizomes were wounded by making two cuts on the distal part of the rhizome or left unwounded before application of the preplant dip treatments. After potting, plants were fertilized with either a high (3.0 mmol·L-1) or a low (1.0 mmol·L-1) calcium nutrient solution through subirrigation. More than 90% of the inoculated rhizomes collapsed within 5 weeks after potting due to bacterial soft rot. With the uninoculated rhizomes, the copper-based compounds (Fixed Copper or Phyton-27) provided better control of bacterial soft rot than either Physan-20 or Virkon only during the first 6 weeks of forcing. During the remainder of the forcing period, there were no differences in weekly losses of rhizomes with the four sterilants. Confirmation of Erwinia carotovora subsp. carotovora (Jones) Bergey et al. as the causal organism was made throughout the experiment. Incisions on the rhizome before planting or calcium nutrition during forcing did not have any significant effect on disease severity. Rhizomes treated with solutions of the copper-based compounds produced 0.5 flowers less per rhizome than either Physan-20 or Virkon. High calcium fertilization resulted in an increase of 0.5 flowers per plant compared to low calcium nutrition.
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