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  • Author or Editor: Liam Dixon x
  • HortTechnology x
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Cercospora leaf spot (CLS), caused by the fungal pathogen Cercospora beticola, is the most destructive foliar disease of table beet (Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris) in Wisconsin, USA, and globally. Under conducive conditions, symptomatic lesions on the leaf expand and coalesce forming large necrotic areas that can ultimately lead to complete defoliation. This damage reduces productivity and threatens the ability to mechanically harvest. CLS damage also detracts from the visual appeal of fresh market bunched beets to such an extent that growers risk buyer rejection if CLS severity is observed to be greater than 5%. Fungicide use for CLS control is threatened by the emergence of resistant C. beticola strains, and the application of host resistance is constrained by limited knowledge of cultivar reaction to CLS in table beet. This study aimed to address the knowledge gaps of fungicide efficacy and cultivar reaction by conducting replicated field trials in multiple table beet growing environments across Wisconsin. Broad variation for resistance to CLS was observed among the 10 included cultivars. The mean area under disease progress curve (AUDPC) across environments for the most susceptible cultivar was 267% greater than the most resistant cultivar. Spearman correlations between environments for mean cultivar AUDPC value ranged from 0.71 to 0.99, revealing consistent cultivar CLS reactions across environments. Although susceptible cultivars surpassed 5% severity in all environments, the resistant cultivars remained below this threshold in six of the 10 environments. By comparison with resistant sugar beet (Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris) cultivars, however, all tested table beets appeared susceptible to CLS, highlighting the potential for a CLS breeding effort in table beet. Neither of the evaluated Organic Materials Review Institute–listed treatments were effective at limiting CLS disease progress, whereas both tested conventional fungicides significantly reduced disease severity over the nontreated plots. These findings may provide helpful guidance to table beet growers affected by CLS in Wisconsin and beyond.

Open Access