Relating plant and pathogen development to optimise fungicide control of phoma stem canker (Leptosphaeria maculans) on winter oilseed rape (Brassica napus)
Steed, J. M.
Fitt, Bruce D.L.
In winter oilseed rape experiments at Rothamsted in 2000/01 to 2002/03 growing seasons, the severity of phoma stem canker epidemics in summer depended on the timing of phoma leaf spot epidemics in the previous autumn, and hence on the timing of Leptosphaeria maculans ascospore release. The first major release of L. maculans ascospores was earlier in 2000 (26 September) and 2001 (18 September) than in 2002 (21 October). Consequently, the autumn phoma leaf spot epidemic was also earlier in 2000 and 2001 than in 2002. The resulting stem canker epidemics were severe by harvest (July) in 2001 and 2002 but not in 2003. No correlation was found between the severity or duration of phoma leaf spotting (lesion days or lesion °C-days) and the subsequent severity of phoma stem canker epidemics. Rates of leaf production and loss were similar in the three growing seasons. Out of ca. 25 leaves produced on plants during each season, leaf numbers 10–14 generally remained on plants for the longest. Treatment with flusilazole + carbendazim in autumn decreased the severity of phoma leaf spotting for several weeks after treatment, decreased the severity of stem canker the following summer and increased yield significantly in 2001 and 2002 but not in 2003. The most effective timings for flusilazole + carbendazim application were when leaves 7–11 were present on most plants and at least 10% of plants were affected by phoma leaf spot. Two half-dose applications of fungicide reduced phoma stem canker and increased yield more than a single full dose application when phoma leaf spot epidemics were early (<800 °C-days after sowing).