Field evaluation of weather-based spray programs for the control of downy mildew of lettuce (Lactuaca sativa), caused by Bremia lactucae, in Quebec and Ontario
Each year, downy mildew caused by Bremia lactucae occurs in lettuce-producing regions of Quebec and Ontario. Trials were conducted to determine if the disease could be managed with fewer fungicide applications, using disease forecasting. Disease-forecasting programs designed to time the application of fungicide sprays were evaluated for control of downy mildew of lettuce in 1997 and 1998 at 9 field sites. Disease forecasting was based on lesion development following a recorded sporulation-infection period (SIP), with leaf wetness between 3:00 AM and 10:00 AM and temperature between 5 and 20 °C. Presymptom sprays with the protectant fungicide mancozeb were applied before lesions were expected; they were based on 110 accumulated degree-days following a SIP, but not within 7 days of a previous spray. Post-latent-period sprays with the systemic fungicide metalaxyl-M in combination with mancozeb were applied after forecasted lesion development; they were based on 135 accumulated degree-days, but not within 14 days of a previous spray. The effects of forecasted sprays were compared with those of weekly applications of mancozeb and with those of metalaxyl-M or metalaxyl applied in furrow at the time of seeding or transplanting. Downy mildew developed at 7 of the 9 sites. The number of SIPs recorded at all sites ranged from 7 to 17. In 8 of the 9 sites, there were fewer mancozeb applications with the presymptom program than with the weekly sprays, that is a reduction of one, two, and three sprays at six, one, and one sites, respectively. This resulted in a 16%–60% reduction in applied fungicide. When metalaxyl-M plus mancozeb was applied according to the post-latent-period forecast, one or two sprays were required, that is a reduction of two, three, and four applications at four, three, and two sites, respectively, compared with the weekly application of mancozeb alone. Metalaxyl-M or metalaxyl applied in furrow provided control for 30–40 days after seeding or transplanting. The number of fungicide applications can be reduced with acceptable disease control if a forecasting program is followed.