The spatial quantification and hierarchy characterization of Sclerotinia prevalence from a decade of observations in soybean and sunflower
Rothmann, Lisa Ann
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Sclerotinia diseases, caused by the fungal pathogen Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (Lib.) de Bary, are considered amongst the most destructive diseases of many economically important crops, resulting in significant economic losses. The pathosystem is complex, driven by the intricate relationships between the host, pathogen and environment (natural and anthropogenic). The dissemination of this pathogen is primarily through the movement of infected seed or sclerotia infested seed bags. Intra- and inter-field spread of ascospores is possible through air mass movements, although, intrinsic inoculum is considered the most important source of inoculum for disease initiation. The prolonged survival of sclerotia and sporadic nature of disease development complicates the management of Sclerotinia diseases. An integrated pest management approach is recommended to combat S. sclerotiorum including the use of clean and certified seed, selecting cultivars showing tolerance, appropriate planting density, rotations with non-hosts, tillage practices and fungicide or biological control applications. These practices need to consider disease development, yield considerations and potential impacts on future pathogen build-up. This review aims to highlight similarities and compare differences between local (South African) and the international Sclerotinia disease experiences, as well as provide some opportunities to extend the local knowledge of S. sclerotiorum.