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Optimizing Use of DMI Fungicides for Management of Apple Powdery Mildew Caused by Podosphaera leucotricha in New York State

David Strickland, , Kerik Cox
Published: 2 December 2021

Abstract: Powdery mildew, caused by the ascomycete Podosphaera leucotricha, is an endemic disease found wherever apples are grown that negatively impacts both tree vigor and fresh market yield. In the absence of durable host resistance, chemical management is the primary means of disease control. Demethylation inhibitor (DMI) fungicides are widely used to manage apple powdery mildew, but members within this fungicide class have been observed to differ in efficacy with respect to disease control. Moreover, debate exists as to the optimal timing of DMI fungicide applications for management of apple powdery mildew. In this regard, the goal of this study was to determine the best-use practices for DMI fungicides to manage apple powdery mildew in New York State. Multi-year trials were conducted to evaluate the potential differential efficacy performance of four common DMI fungicides, as well as additional trials to assess optimal application timing. In all years, we observed that treatments of flutriafol and myclobutanil consistently had the lowest incidences of powdery mildew compared to difenoconazole and fenbuconazole. In the 2018 and 2021 trials, the newly registered mefentrifluconazole was more comparable to the difenoconazole program with respect to powdery mildew disease incidence. We hypothesize that differences in DMI efficacy may be due to each fungicides’ water solubility and lipophilicity characteristics, and thus their ability to move systemically in the host or more easily penetrate the surface of germinating conidia. Applications timed between petal fall and first cover resulted in the lowest incidence of powdery mildew on terminal leaves of apple shoots compared to applications timed prior to petal fall. These observations are contrary to previous studies conducted in regions with differing climates. We also found that the incidence of secondary powdery mildew observed two weeks after petal fall was influenced by applications of DMI fungicides during the previous season. For example, management programs consisting of applications of flutriafol or myclobutanil in the prior season tended to have lower incidence of apple powdery in the following spring, presumably owing to reductions in overwintering inoculum. Despite reports of DMI resistance in other apple pathosystems, the DMI fungicide class is still relevant for the successful management of apple powdery mildew in New York State.
Keywords: optimal / efficacy / powdery mildew / fungicides / DMI / apple / Applications timed / respect

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