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Beiquan Mou, Steven T. Koike and Lindsey J. du Toit

The entire U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) germplasm collection (338 accessions) and 22 commercial cultivars were evaluated for resistance to leaf spot caused by Stemphylium botryosum in a greenhouse trial with two replications in 2004. The resistant and susceptible accessions identified as well as the 22 commercial cultivars were included in a second test in 2005 with four replications to confirm the results. No genotype was completely resistant (immune) to the disease. However, there were significant differences in disease incidence (percent of plants with leaf spot) and severity (percent diseased leaf area) among the genotypes tested. Two accessions from Turkey, PI 169685 and PI 173809, consistently had low disease incidence and severity ratings. Two Spinacia tetrandra and four Spinacia turkestanica accessions screened in these public germplasm tests were all susceptible. None of the commercial cultivars tested consistently had low disease incidence or severity. There was no significant correlation between disease incidence/severity and leaf type (smooth, semisavoy, or savoy). In addition to the public germplasm evaluated, 138 proprietary spinach genotypes (breeding lines and cultivars) were obtained from seed companies and screened along with 10 accessions from the USDA germplasm collection for resistance to Stemphylium leaf spot and Cladosporium leaf spot (caused by Cladosporium variabile) in a greenhouse in both 2004 and 2005. Significant differences in severity of leaf spot were observed among the genotypes for both diseases. For each disease, there was a significant positive correlation in severity ratings of the genotypes between the 2004 and 2005 trials. Information on the relative resistance (or susceptibility) of the spinach germplasm evaluated in this study should be useful for plant breeders to develop leaf spot-resistant cultivars.

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Kirk D. Larson, Steven T. Koike and Frank G. Zalom

Strawberry plants (`Commander') were grown with different polyethylene bed mulches in the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 production seasons to determine the effect of mulch on plant growth, yield performance and incidence of Type III strawberry fruit bronzing (T3B), a fruit disorder of unknown origin. In 1999-2000, T3B incidence ranged from 1.8% to 3.7% of total yield, and use of clear, full-bed (CFB) mulch resulted in significantly less T3B incidence than either clear center-strip mulch (CS), or yellow-on-black full-bed mulch. Plant canopy vegetative growth and shoot to root dry mass ratios were greatest for CFB compared to other mulch treatments, but there was no effect of mulch treatment on yield or fruit size. Winter temperatures in 2000-2001 were colder than in 1999-2000, with reduced vegetative growth and increased T3B incidence in spring for all mulch treatments. Use of CFB mulch resulted in greater vegetative growth, greater yield, increased fruit size and reduced T3B incidence compared to CS or green full-bed mulch, but there was no difference among mulch treatments for number of T3B fruit per plot for any single fruit harvest interval. In 2000-2001, the onset of severe T3B symptoms on 7 May was preceded by a brief period of ambient temperatures >31 °C. For all treatments, peak T3B incidence occurred from late May to mid-June, a period characterized by high ambient temperatures and high irradiance conditions. Results indicate that temperature and radiation are significant factors in the development of T3B, and that increased plant vegetative growth in winter results in greater yields and a lower percentage of T3B-affected fruit, particularly in years with cold winters. Managing strawberry plantations to optimize plant growth and development in winter appears to be an effective strategy for reducing the severity of this disorder.

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Steven T. Koike, Miguel S. Vilchez and Albert O. Paulus

California has an extensive strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa L.) industry that has built its reputation on the production of large volumes of fruit that are evenly and fully developed. While some fruit deformity occurs every year, in various counties during the 1997-2000 seasons there were higher than usual numbers of uneven or “catfaced” strawberry fruit. It was thought that the presence of the fungus Cladosporium cladosporioides (Fresen.) G.A. De Vries on flower anthers may have interfered with pollination and increased cull rates. We collected and incubated flower anthers to determine the fungal populations on such tissue and found that C. cladosporioides accounted for the majority of the culturable fungal colonies present. However, while 100% of a flower's anthers were colonized with C. cladosporioides after spray inoculations, the incidence and severity of malformed fruit were not significantly different from untreated flowers. Physically removing all anthers shortly after anthesis likewise did not result in significant differences in fruit quality when compared to untreated control flowers. We conclude that C. cladosporioides colonization of flower anthers has a minimal impact on fruit quality under most field conditions.

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Steven T. Koike, Frank G. Zalom and Kirk D. Larson

Strawberry fruit are subject to three different types of bronzing damage that cause discoloration of the fruit surface and loss of market quality. Type I and Type II bronzing both occur in localized areas of the fruit and are caused by arthropod feeding and chemical phytotoxicity, respectively. In contrast, Type III bronzing (T3B) covers the entire fruit and is associated with environmental and plant stress factors, although many growers and crop advisers believe that T3B is caused by thrips feeding. The purpose of our 3-year study was to investigate incidence of T3B as affected by crop management practices and thrips populations. Replicated field trials demonstrated that overhead cooling with sprinklers resulted in a significant reduction in T3B incidence. In addition, a series of foliar pesticide spray applications also resulted in reduced T3B damage to strawberry fruit. Foliar applications of Thiolux sulfur, other registered pesticides, and lignin products all resulted in reduced incidence of T3B in field trials. In contrast, T3B incidence was not associated with thrips populations; insecticide-treated plots had reduced thrips populations and comparable T3B incidence to nontreated plots that had greater thrips populations. Our study provides evidence that T3B occurrence is associated with exposure to elevated temperatures and solar radiation rather than thrips feeding and that growers can reduce T3B incidence by implementing production practices that reduce plant stress and protect fruit from radiation damage.

Open access

Mark Hoffmann, Husein A. Ajwa, Becky B. Westerdahl, Steven T. Koike, Mike Stanghellini, Cheryl Wilen and Steven A. Fennimore

Allyl isothiocyanate (AITC) is a glucosinolate produced in cruciferous plant species. AITC is known to act as a pesticide on microorganisms, insects, and weeds. Synthetic AITC is registered as a biopesticide for agricultural soil treatment use in the United States and elsewhere in the world. Although a potent pesticide, reports on the weed and pathogen control efficacy of synthetic AITC applied as soil disinfectant are highly variable. Due to the low vapor pressure of AITC, questions remain as to whether pest and weed control efficacy can be improved by combining it with other chemicals. The objective of this study was to assess the control efficacy of AITC stand-alone applications vs. applications, in which AITC was combined with the standard-fumigants chloropicrin, 1,3-dichloropicrin, and methyl isothiocyanate. Two shank-applied on-farm field trials were conducted in cut flower [delphinium (Delphinium elatum), ranunculus (Ranunculus asiaticus)] fields, and two drip tape applied field trials in strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) fields in California. Weed pressure, weed seed viability, nematode survival, and pathogen survival of Pythium ultimum, fusarium wilt (Fusarium oxysporum), and verticillium wilt (Verticillium dahliae) were assessed. Cumulative yearly yield of marketable fruit was assessed in the strawberry field trials. The results of this study show that the use of AITC as a stand-alone treatment provided no consistent weed or pathogen control efficacy. However, our results also indicate that shank and drip applied multitactic fumigation approaches with AITC can efficiently control soil-borne diseases and weeds. These findings have potential implications, especially in those areas where certain fumigants are restricted due to regulations and/or availability.