Fusarium Wilt of Pepper

In Brazil, the major disease that is creating havoc to pepper cultivation is the Fusarium wilt, and this disease is causing severe losses in that country (Duarte and Albuquerque 1991).

Root rot and stem blight

The symptoms of Fusarium infection is root rot leading to flaccidity and yellowing of foliage. The affected plants are killed within a short period. The organism is identified as Fusarium solani f. sp. piperis. The perfect stage has been identified as Nectria haematococca f. sp.piperis. In affected plants the fungus produces abundant perithecia. Fusarium infection in plantation is reported to reduce the economic life of plantation from 20 to 6-8 years and the productivity per plant from 3.0-1.5 kg (Duarte and Albuquerque 1991).

Disease management

Phytosanitary measures like removing infected plants and burning and application of 200 g calcium cyanamide per mound are practiced. Chemical control measures with both systemic and contact fungicides are resorted to depending on the nature of damage. Benomyl, carbendazim and thiobendazole at 0.5 and 0.6 per cent are reported to be effective against Fusarium. Prophylactic application of fungicides at fortnightly interval, systemic fungicide followed by contact fungicide to the foliage and soil drenching with Benomyl (0.05%) and thiobendazole (0.06%) were found effective in controlling the disease. In the nursery, benomyl or thiobendazole at 500 ppm for Fusarium and metalaxyl at 500 ppm or Bordeaux mixture at 10,000 ppm for Phytophthora infections, Pencycuron 500 ppm for Thanatephorus cucumeris are followed. None of the cultivars was found resistant whereas, Piper attenuatum, P. cariconnectivum, P. betle and P. colubrinum were resistant (Duarte and Albuquerque 1991). Mutation breeding by irradiation of seeds was found promising (Poltronieri et al. 1991). [Note: The etiology of this disease is still not completely understood. Holliday informed that he has not come across any proper evidence that any Fusarium sp. causes a wilt of any virulence anywhere. More studies are needed to establish the Fusarium etiology beyond doubt (Holliday, private communication, ed.]

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