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T.G. Beckman and P.L. Pusey

Armillaria root rot is the second leading cause of peach tree mortality (after peach tree short life) in the southeastern United States. Currently, there are no commercially available rootstocks for peach with proven resistance to this pathogen in the United States. Since 1983, we have been screening rootstock candidates for resistance to Armillaria utilizing naturally infected field sites. Inoculation of peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch], plum (P. cerasifera J.F. Ehrh., P. munsoniana F.W. Wight & Hedr., P. salicina Lindl. or P. angustifolia Marsh.) × peach and plum × plum hybrid rootstocks with infected plant tissue (such as acorns, Quercus sp.) prior to planting has provided a significantly increased infection and mortality of candidate rootstock lines in comparison with sole reliance on natural inoculum on an infested site.

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T.G. Beckman, P.L. Pusey and P.F. Bertrand

Peach tree fungal gummosis caused by Botryosphaeria dothidea [(Moug.:Fr.) Cos & de Not.] is widespread throughout the southeastern United States. Until recently, its economic impact on peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] has been impossible to estimate, since no effective controls were known. Significant, though not total, suppression of gummosis on `Summergold' peach trees was achieved with an intensive 5-year spray program with captafol. Captan was far less effective than captafol. Both trunk diameter and fruit yield were negatively correlated with disease severity. After eight growing seasons, trees treated with captafol were 18% larger than the untreated trees. Yield of mature captafol-treated trees was 40% to 60% high er than that of untreated ones. Following termination of the spray program after 5 years, disease severity gradually increased on both captafol- and captan-treated trees. However, through eight growing seasons, disease severity was significantly lower on captafol-treated trees. This study demonstrates that peach tree fungal gummosis significantly depresses tree growth and fruit yield on susceptible peach cultivars.

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T.G. Beckman, W.R. Okie, A.P. Nyczepir, P.L. Pusey and C.C. Reilly

Nearly 5000 seedling trees representing more than 100 peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch.] and plum (Prunus spp.) lines were planted at a 4 × 0.6-m spacing in Jan. 1983, on a site with a known history of peach tree short life (PTSL) and Armillaria root rot (ARR). Trees were arranged in a randomized complete-block with eight replicates of six trees each. Beginning in Spring 1984 and each year thereafter the cause of tree death was determined. At the end of 9 years, 50% of the trees had succumbed to PTSL and 35% had been killed by ARR apparently caused by Armillaria tabescens. Analysis of the data for trees killed by ARR showed a wide range in mortality, some peach lines appeared significantly more tolerant to ARR than others. Plum lines derived from native North American species also appeared to be a potential source of improved tolerance. We did not establish whether ARR tolerance is affected by PTSL.

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K.O. Britton, F.F. Hendrix, P.L. Pusey, W.R. Okie, C.C. Reilly and J.W. Daniell

Two field experiments were conducted to assess peach (Prurus persica L.) cultivar susceptibility to the three Botryosphaeria spp. that cause peach tree fungal gummosis. Inoculated trees were evaluated for disease severity by rating gum exudation, vascular discoloration, and fungal colonization. Each severity measurement yielded a different rank ordering of cultivars for susceptibility. However, in a greenhouse study, these same measurements gave consistent rankings for aggressiveness of the fungal species on `Blake'. Despite large differences in disease severity in the greenhouse study, none of the severity measures were correlated with tree growth after inoculation. The only factor significantly correlated with growth rate of the trees after inoculation was growth rate before inoculation.

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C. Stevens, P. L. Pusey, V. A. Khan, J. Y. Lu, C. L. Wilson, E. Chalutz, M. K. Kabwe, Z. Haung, O. Adeyeye and J. Lin

Low hormetic doses of ultraviolet light (UV-C) stress on exposed peaches (Prunus persica). reduced brown rot resulting from field and artificial inoculation from Monilinia fructicola. To test the hypothesis that UV-C induced resistance through host responses the following tests involving biochemical changes (phenlyalanine ammonia-lyase activity (PAL) and ethylene production (EP)), bioassay of antifungal activity of tissue extracts to the fungus, and latent infection of rot free peaches previously treated with and without UV-C were determined. Exposure of peaches to UV-C dose of 7.5×104 ergs/mm2 promoted an increase in PAL and EP compared to the control. As the PAL activity increased, percent storage rots decreased. Antifungal activity to the fungal conidia in UV-C treated peach extract showed that the percent conidia germination was reduced 3 folds. Preharvest infection of brown rot which indicated latent infection was significantly reduced. To test for the germicidal effect of UV-C on M. fructicola on the surface of peaches, an artificial epiphytic population of the fungus was deposited on the peaches. A negative relationship between UV-C dose of 1.3 to 40×104 ergs /mm2, colony forming units and number of decaying brown rot lesions were found.

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C. Stevens, L. P. Pusey, V.A. Khan, J.Y. Lu, C.L. Wilson, M.A. Wilson, M.K. Kabwe, J. Liu, E. Chaultz and S. Droby

Flavorcrest, Camden. C. L. Wilson, Loring, Elberta, Summergold and Harken peach varieties were inoculated and naturally infected with Monilinia fructicolo after ultraviolet light irradiation (W-C 254nm) showed increased resistance to brown rot disease. Although dosages ranged from 0 to 20 KJ/m2. 7.5 KJ/m2 was considered the most effective for the peach varieties tested. Pretreatment of peaches by field spraying or dipping into a benomyl fungicide showed no significant differences between non-treated and UV-C treated peaches. However. a combination of a low dose of benomyl (.15g/L) 3 days following UV-C treatment showed a synergistic effect on brown rot reduction when compared to Peaches treated with UV-C alone and a greater reduction of brow rot than benomyl control.

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C. Stevens, V.A. Khan, J.Y. Lu, C.L. Wilson, P.L. Pusey, M.K. Kabwel, Y. Mafolo, J. Liul, E. Chalutz and S. Droby

Applying low doses of ultraviolet light (254 nm, W-C) reduces the incidence of brown rot of (Monilinia fructicola) peaches, green mold (Penicillium digitatum) of tangerines, and Rhizopus soft rot (Rhizopus stolonifer) of tomatoes and sweetpotatoes resulting from field infection and artificial inoculation. In most studies, applying postharvest fungicide (PF) was better than W-C treatment. In this study, the effectiveness of combining a biocontrol agent, Debaryomyces hansenii (BC), with low UV-C dose for postharvest disease control was investigated. When these commodities were treated with BC 3 days after W-C treatment, the reduction of storage rots was more effective than when UV-C was used alone. For example, the percent brown rot infection of artificially inoculated Elberta peaches 36 hours after inoculation of the nontreated control, peaches treated with UV-C, BC, W-C + BC, and benlate were 100%, 55%, 67%, 12%, and 12%, respectively. The efficacy of W-C + BC was similar to when PF was used alone, indicating that an integration of UV-C treatment and BC can reduce storage rot to the levels of commercial PF treatment.