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Charles S. Vavrina, Pamela D. Roberts, Nancy Kokalis-Burelle and Esa O. Ontermaa

Six greenhouse trials of five commercial products marketed as systemic resistance (SR) and plant growth promotion (PGP) inducers were evaluated on tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) over a 21-month period. The effect of the inducers on treated plants was measured by monitoring plant growth and disease suppression after inoculation with either plant pathogenic bacteria or nematodes. The commercially available SR/PGP inducers included a bacterial suspension [Companion (Bacillus subtilis GB03)], two plant defense elicitors with nutrients (Keyplex 350DP plus Nutri-Phite, and Rezist with Cab'y), natural plant extracts (Liquid Seaweed Concentrate and Stimplex), and a synthetic growth regulator (Actigard 50W). Growth enhancement was noted in some trials, but the parameter of growth affected often varied with trial. Response to Actigard treatment included significant suppression of bacterial spot [Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria (Xcv)] in three of the six trials. Companion, Keyplex 350DP plus Nutri-Phite, Rezist and Cab'y, and seaweed products induced only partial disease suppression of bacterial spot in inoculated tomato plants. The alpha-keto acids plus nutrients (Keyplex 350DP plus Nutri-Phite) increased plant growth by 14.3% and improved root condition compared to the untreated control following exposure to nematodes. Results are encouraging, if not consistent, and with a greater understanding of the SR system and the conditions related to product efficacy, such materials may become effective tools for production agriculture.