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Vegetable IPM Updates Archive
Cooperative Extension
Managing Sclerotinia Drop of Lettuce With Fungicides (October 1, 2014)
Successful management of any plant disease is achieved by focusing efforts on one or more vulnerable stages in the disease development cycle. For lettuce drop, caused by the fungi Sclerotinia minor and S. sclerotiorum, this point of attack centers on the fungal bodies called sclerotia. At crop maturity, sclerotia produced on infected plants will be incorporated into soil along with crop debris as the land is prepared for planting the next crop. For the Sclerotinia fungi, sclerotia serve the same purpose that seeds do for plants; that is, they allow the organism to carry over in soil in a dormant state until conditions become favorable for germination and growth. Over the past several years of fungicide evaluation trials, the traditional fungicide application to the lettuce bed surface beginning after thinning has provided at best about a 50 to 60% reduction in dead plants compared to plots not receiving a fungicide treatment. In a 6-year comparison of fungicide efficacy in plots containing Sclerotinia minor, the average reduction of disease in soil infested with Sclerotinia minor was 61, 53, 44, 43, 43, and 38%, respectively, for plots treated with fluazinam (Omega), boscalid (Endura), iprodione (Rovral), penthiopyrad (Fontelis), Coniothyrium minitans (Contans), and fludioxonil (Cannonball). In soil infested with Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, the mean reduction of disease for the six trials was 73, 56, 49, 47, 44, and 23%, respectively, for plots treated with Contans, Omega, Endura, Cannonball, Rovral, and Fontelis. Application of fungicides to the bed surface prevents germination of sclerotia at or near the soil surface. Ongoing research is focused on examining new active ingredients and methods of application to soil with the goal of consistently increasing the level of Sclerotinia drop control above the 50 to 60% now achieved.
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