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  • Author or Editor: Kevin L. Ong x
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Phytophthora diseases are economically important, requiring the use of chemical fungicides and, more recently, biological controls. Recent research suggests that composted bark products may lessen the impact of the disease, even in the absence of these chemicals. An experiment was conducted to compare chemical and biological fungicides to untreated pine bark compost. Impatiens wallerana plugs were transplanted from 288 trays into 1801 trays. All plants were planted into Berger BM-7, 35% composted bark mix (Berger Horticulture, Quebec, Canada). Media was prepared by premixing one of the five following fungicide treatments: 1) Control, 2) Banrot at 0.6 g/L, 3) Root Shield at 1.6 g/L, 4) Actino-Fe at 5.1 g/Ll, or 5) SoilGard at 1.6 g/L. Plants received no fertilizer. Three strains of Phytophthora were grown in 25 °C on clarified V8 media. Pathogenic inoculum was made by macerating the growth media and fungi in 100 ml H2O. Mixture was pulse-blended for 1 min, and an additional 200 mL dH2O was added. Inoculation was 5 ml per plant. Flats were kept on a misting bench, and misted twice daily for 15 min. The experiment was set up using a RBD repeated six times with three plants per rep. Plants were rated weekly for 5 weeks using a damage scale of 0 to 5, with 0 indicating no sign of disease and 5 being dead. Statistical analysis was conducted using a Chi-Square. Disease incidence between the biological, chemical, and composted bark treatments did not differ, with all treatments providing complete control. At least in this study, the use of composted pine bark media provided Phytophthora control equivalent to current chemical and biological fungicides.

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A study was conducted on the Texas A&M Univ.-Commerce campus to evaluate the effect of compost type on the spread of bermudagrass into rose garden beds. Roses were planted in an randomized complete-block design in beds amended with composts derived from yard waste, manure, poultry litter, or dairy manure, or an unamended control. The study site was free of vegetation prior to planting. No pre- or post-emergent herbicides were applied after planting. Each bed was assessed visually monthly and scored on a scale of 0 to 10, with each point equivalent to 10% coverage. A bed received a score of 10 upon full coverage. Beds amended with poultry litter and yard waste had significantly higher bermudagrass invasion and reached 100% coverage more quickly than other treatments. Some of the poultry litter beds reached 100% coverage within 40 days of planting. The control planting had significantly lower coverage than all compost treatments throughout the study.

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The eriophyid mite, Phyllocoptes fructiphilus, vectors the causal agent, Rose rosette virus (RRV), that results in rose rosette disease. Parts of the southeastern United States have remained free of the disease, except for infected plant material introductions that were eradicated. A survey of sampling points through Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi (n = 204) revealed the southeastern border of RRV. The presence of RRV in symptomatic plant tissue samples (n = 39) was confirmed by TaqMan-quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). Samples were also collected at every plot for detection of eriophyid mites, specifically for P. fructiphilus. Three different species of eriophyid mites were found to be generally distributed throughout Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. Most of these sites (n = 60) contained P. fructiphilus, found further south than previously thought, but in low populations (<10 mites/gram of tissue) south of the RRV line of incidence. Latitude was found to be significantly correlated with the probability of detecting RRV-positive plants, but plant hardiness zones were not. Plot factors such as plant size, wind barriers, and sun exposure were found to have no effect on P. fructiphilus or the presence of RRV. The reason for the absence of RRV and low populations of P. fructiphilus in this southeast region of the United States are unclear.

Open Access