Control of Mycosphaerella

Supporting the UK Cucumber Industry

Our current research effort is largely directed towards Mycosphaerella. The HDC funded project (PE 001) involving Grower sites, STC, ADAS and the University of Worcester. Whilst the project is ongoing, there has already been a large amount of important information to come out of the work, that has already been implemented for the benefit of the grower’s.

Mycosphaerella affects the stem, leaves and flowers and this infection leads to both visible (external) and non-visible (internal) fruit rot, resulting in significant yield loss.

The projects main aims were:

–              To understand how the disease establishes and survives

–              Test experimental products for control of the disease

–              To test disinfectants efficacy against the disease

–              To investigate the potential for systemic infection in UK Conditions

–              To devise an integrated strategy for mycosphaerella control and validate its use in a commercial cropping situation.

Spore trapping was set up at a number of commercial sites across the country, to understand what happens to the spore levels throughout a growing season. It was found that the spore levels rose dramatically as the year progressed, particularly in nurseries that grew a 2nd and more especially a 3rd crop. The study then used these results to test out many different scenarios to understand how best to combat the disease.

The key results from the first phase of the project were that:

–              Good crop hygiene and glasshouse cleanliness are key to reducing the risk of the disease

–              Several disinfectants were shown to have a good activity at killing spores.

–              Effective disinfection between crops was another way to reduce the spore carry over throughout the season.

–              Several new chemicals have been found to have very good efficacy against the disease.

The project was approved by the CGA committee to carry on its work to find out more about the disease, with the hopeful aim of developing a test kit that could be used to determine at any one time whether the disease was present on a site, before it appeared on the plants. Many of the objectives have already been met but the test kit for the disease is proving elusive. This work is currently ongoing.