Are fungicide applications to control crown rust of oat beneficial?

May, W.E., Ames, N.P., Irvine, R.B., Kutcher, H.R., Lafond, G.P., and Shirtliffe, S.J. (2014). "Are fungicide applications to control crown rust of oat beneficial?", Canadian Journal of Plant Science, 94(5), pp. 911-922. doi : 10.4141/CJPS2013-333  Access to full text

Abstract

Crown rust (Puccinia coronata Corda f. sp. avenae Eriks.) negatively impacts seed quality and yield in oat (Avena sativa L.) in rust-prone areas of eastern Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. Genetic resistance is the primary means for controlling this disease, but early seeding and fungicide applications have been suggested to reduce yield losses. Trials were conducted in six locations in Saskatchewan and Manitoba in 2009–2011 to determine the interactions between cultivar, fungicide application, crown rust and seeding date. The cultivars were chosen to represent a range of resistance to the current races of crown rust: AC Morgan, very susceptible; CDC Orrin, susceptible; CDC Boyer, partially resistant; and Leggett, resistant. Crown rust severity varied among locations and cultivars. The sprayed flag and penultimate leaves of AC Morgan tended to have similar amounts of crown rust as the unsprayed leaves of CDC Boyer and CDC Orrin regardless of the level of crown rust infection. Leggett's yield and quality did not respond to fungicide application. Only AC Morgan consistently benefited from a fungicide application. At high crown rust sites fungicide application improved AC Morgan's yield by 17 to 27% (690 kg ha1 to 781 kg ha1). Delayed seeding reduced grain yield from 8 to 26% with 8% occurring at low crown rust sites and the largest reductions occurring at high crown rust sites in susceptible cultivars. The test weight of AC Morgan increased from 242 g 0.5 L1 to 255 g 0.5 L1 when fungicide was applied at high crown rust sites seeded in mid-May. Fungicide application did not change the test weight of Leggett. The β-glucan level was affected more by seeding date (0.4%) and cultivar (0.4%) than fungicide application (0.1%). Seeding a cultivar with better crown rust resistance than AC Morgan in mid-May eliminated most of the benefits derived from fungicide application. These results indicate that prophylactic fungicide applications are unlikely to provide yield improvement when early planting is combined with even a moderately disease-resistant cultivar.

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