Environmental and host requirements for field infection of blueberry fruits by Colletotrichum acutatum in British Columbia

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Abstract

Higher recovery of Colletotrichum acutatum, the causal agent of anthracnose (ripe-rot), from blueberry tissues during the growing seasons of 2002 and 2003 was found at bloom and ripe berry than at other stages of plant development. The effects of leaf-wetness duration and ambient temperature on fruit infection frequency were determined during the growing seasons of 2001–03. Potted 2-year-old blueberry plants were exposed for 1-week periods to prevailing environmental conditions and natural inoculum in a commercial field, and grown to harvest, when fruit infection was assessed. Three peaks of infection were observed: early during bloom, mid-season during the mature green berry stage, and later in the season when berries had ripened. Weather data collected simultaneously indicated that a minimum of 10 h of leaf wetness at 11°C was sufficient for fruit infection. These conditions preceded each peak of infection. To determine whether peaks of infection in the field were also caused by changes in host susceptibility or available inoculum, groups of potted blueberry plants were artificially inoculated at weekly intervals during the growing season of 2004, exposed to prevailing environmental conditions, and fruit infection assessed at harvest. Flowers and developing fruits were found to be susceptible throughout the season, indicating that specific peaks of infection were associated with environmental conditions and availability of inoculum.

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