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Medani Omer, James C. Locke and Jonathan M. Frantz

Diagnosis of incipient disease based on visual symptoms of geraniums (Pelargonium ×hortorum) exposed to water mold pathogens is often difficult, especially when the plants are maintained under optimum growing conditions. Such plants tend to be asymptomatic until late in the infection process when control methods are less effective and the aesthetic value of the finished crop is diminished. To circumvent such a problem and to be able to predict the susceptibility of the plants to infection, we used infrared transducers to measure leaf surface temperature, in addition to other parameters, in geranium plants exposed to a number of soil pathogens that are commonly associated with greenhouse production. Differences in leaf temperature among treatments were noticeable by 2 week after inoculation and were the greatest in week 7. However, visual disease symptoms were not detected until 3 weeks after inoculation. Results of this study suggest that leaf temperature measurements are a versatile, nondestructive way of rapidly determining whether plants are under pathogen stress before visual symptoms develop.