Disease Management in Nurseries

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Pepper being a perennial crop, producing disease free planting material is the first step in disease management. P. capsici, which occurs on all parts of pepper and infect all stages of the plants, calls for greater precaution to prevent the introduction of the fungus to newer areas. The disease management strategy includes collection of disease free planting material, disinfection of nursery mixture and an integrated control measures (Sarma et al. 1988a, 1988b, Anandaraj and Sarma 1995).

Collection of planting material

Runner shoots used for multiplication must be collected from disease free gardens. The roots present on the runner shoots which were trailing on the ground has to be removed and the material washed throughly with water to remove all the adhering soil particles and the cuttings dipped in a fungicide such as Mancozeb or any copper fungicide before planting in polyethylene bags.

Preparation of nursery mixture

After preparing the mixture it may be sterilized using methyl bromide or through solarization by spreading the mixture in an open area up to a height of 30 cm, moistening with water and covering with polyethylene sheet (Sarma et al. 1996). After solarization, the mixture is fortified with vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizae and antagonistic fungi like Trichoderma and Gliocladium. As the cuttings grow and show symptoms of infection, infected cuttings are separated and a prophylactic spray with a fungicide such as Bordeaux mixture (1%) is given to prevent the spread of the disease (Mammootty et al. 1980, Mammootty and Pillay 1981, Mammootty et al. 1992, Sarma et al. 1988a, 1988b). To protect the cuttings from Phytophthora a foliar spray with 200 ppm of metalaxyl was found very effective. Metalaxyl is compatible with biocontrol organisms, and application of biocontrol agents to the soil together with spraying the foliage with metalaxyl would offer better protection. In short, nursery diseases could be managed by using cuttings from healthy gardens, by adopting phytosanitation and spraying the cuttings with Bordeaux mixture (1%) or metalaxyl 200 ppm as and when such necessity arise.

CONCLUSIONS

In pepper all the fungal diseases described above occur during the wet monsoon season under Indian condition. In other pepper growing areas also Phytophthora infections occur during the wet period. Although the weather requirement for Phytophthora diseases are studied in detail, in the integrated management of diseases a fixed fungicide schedule is followed as the favourable weather conditions are attained during the monsoon period every year. The fungicide application to the foliage at the onset of monsoon would protect the plants against the infections caused by Phytophthora, Colletotriehum etc. The application of organic manures along with biocontrol agents would prevent the population build-up of P. capsici in soil and protect the roots against the damages. Present research efforts are concentrated on host resistance, by understanding the mechanism of resistance and incorporating the same through biotechnological means, so that host resistance becomes an important component of integrated management of diseases of pepper.

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