- Author: Sumanth S. R. Dara
- Author: Suchitra S. Dara
- Author: Surendra K. Dara
Charcoal rot, caused by Macrophomina phaseolina, is one of the important fungal diseases of strawberry in California. Macrophomina phaseolina is a soilborne fungus and has a wide host range, including alfalfa, cabbage, corn, pepper, and potato, some of which are cultivated in the strawberry production areas in California. The fungus infects the vascular system of the plant roots, obstructing the nutrient and water supply and ultimately resulting in stunted growth, wilting, and death of the plant. The fungus survives in the soil and infected plant debris as microsclerotia (resting structures made of hyphal bodies) and can persist for up to three years. Microslerotia germinate and penetrate the root system to initiate infection. Plants are more vulnerable to fungal infection when they are experiencing environmental (extreme weather or drought conditions) and physiological (heavy fruit bearing) stress.
Soil fumigation is the primary management option for addressing charcoal rot in strawberry. Crop rotation with broccoli can also reduce the risk of charcoal rot due to glucosinolates and isothiocyanates in broccoli crop residue that have fungicidal properties. Beneficial microorganisms such as Bacillus spp. and Trichoderma spp. are also considered, especially in organic strawberries, to antagonize M. phaseolina and other soilborne pathogens and provide some protection. The role of beneficial microbes in disease management or improving crop growth and health is gaining popularity in the recent years with the commercial availability of biofungicide, biostimulant, and soil amendment products. In a couple of recent strawberry field studies in Santa Maria, some of the beneficial microbial products improved fruit yield or crop health. These treatments can be administered by inoculating the transplants prior to planting, immediately after planting or periodically applying to the plants and or the soil. Adding beneficial microbes can help improve the soil microbiome especially after chemical or bio-fumigation and anaerobic soil disinfestation.
Similar to the benefits of traditionally used bacteria (e.g., Bacillus spp. and Pseudomonas spp.) and fungi (e.g., Glomus spp. and Trichoderma spp.), studies with entomopathogenic fungi such as Beauveria bassiana, Isaria fumosorosea, and Metarhizium spp. also demonstrated their role in improving water and nutrient absorption or antagonizing plant pathogens. The advantage of entomopathogenic fungi is that they are already used for arthropod pest management in multiple crops, including strawberry; now, there are the additional benefits of promoting crop growth and antagonizing plant pathogens. In light of some promising recent studies exploring these roles, a study was conducted using potted strawberry plants to evaluate the efficacy of two California isolates of Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopliae s.l. and their application strategies against M. phaseolina.
About 6 week old strawberry plants (cultivar Albion) from a strawberry field at the Shafter Research Station were transplanted into 1.6-gallon pots with Miracle-Gro All Purpose Garden Soil (0.09-0.05-0.07 N-P-K) and maintained in an outdoor environment. They were regularly watered, and their health was monitored for about 5 months prior to the commencement of the study. Conidial suspensions of the California isolates of B. bassiana and M. anisopliae s.l. were applied one week before, after, or at the time of applying microsclerotia of M. phaseolina to the potting mix. The following treatments were evaluated in the study:
- Untreated control
- Soil inoculated with M. phaseolina
- Soil inoculated with B. bassiana 1 week prior to M. phaseolina inoculation
- Soil inoculated with M. anisopliae s.l. 1 week prior to M. phaseolina inoculation
- Soil inoculated with B. bassiana at the time of M. phaseolina inoculation
- Soil inoculated with M. anisopliae s.l. at the time of M. phaseolina inoculation
- Soil inoculated with B. bassiana 1 week after to M. phaseolina inoculation
- Soil inoculated with M. anisopliae s.l. 1 week after to M. phaseolina inoculation
Entomopathogenic fungi were applied as 1X1010 viable conidia in 100 ml of 0.01% Dyne-Amic (surfactant) solution distributed around the plant base. To apply M. phaseolina, 5 grams of infested cornmeal-sand inoculum containing 2,500 CFU/gram was added to four 5 cm deep holes around the base of the plant. Each treatment had six pots each planted with a single strawberry plant representing a replication. Treatments were randomly arranged within each replication. The study was repeated once a few days after the initiation of the first experiment.
Plant health was monitored starting from the first week after the M. phaseolina inoculation and continued for seven weeks. Plant health was rated on a scale of 0 to 5 where 0=dead and 5=very healthy and the rest of the ratings in between depending on the extent of wilting. Data from both experiments were combined and analyzed by ANOVA using Statistix software and significant means were separated using LSD test. The influence of entomopathogenic fungal treatments applied at different times as well as the combined effect of different applications within each fungus were compared for seven weeks. Ratings for some plants that were scorched from hot summer temperatures and died abruptly were removed from the analyses.
Untreated control plants maintained good health throughout the observation period varying between the rating of 4.3 and 4.9. In general, plant health declined considerably from the 5th week after M. phaseolina inoculation. Plant health appeared to be slightly better in plants treated with entomopathogenic fungi, but there was no statistically significant difference in any except one instance. Plants treated with M. anisopliae one week prior to the application of M. phaseolina had a rating of 3.0 compared to 1.6 rating of plants inoculated with M. phaseolina alone.
When data from different treatments for each entomopathogenic fungus were compared, both B. bassiana and M. anisopliae s.l. appeared to reduce the wilting, but the plant health rating was not significantly different M. phaseolina treatment alone.
This is the first report of the impact of entomopathogenic fungi on M. phaseolina with some promise. Additional studies under more uniform environmental conditions and with more treatment options would shed more light on this approach of using entomopathogenic fungi against M. phaseolina. The current study evaluated single application of the entomopathogenic fungi and we plan to conduct additional studies with multiple applications.
Acknowledgements: We thank Dr. Kelly Ivors (previously at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo) for the pathogen inoculum and Dr. Stefan Jaronski, USDA-ARS, Sidney, MT for multiplying the entomopathogenic fungal inocula.
Dara, S. K. and D. Peck. 2017. Evaluating beneficial microbe-based products for their impact on strawberry plant growth, health, and fruit yield. UC ANR eJournal Strawberries and Vegetables. https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=25122
Dara, S. K. and D. Peck. 2018. Evaluation of additive, soil amendment, and biostimulant products in Santa Maria strawberry. CAPCA Adviser, 21(5): 44-50.
Dara, S. K., S.S.R. Dara, and S. S. Dara. 2017. Impact of entomopathogenic fungi on the growth, development, and health of cabbage growing under water stress. Amer. J. Plant Sci. 8: 1224-1233. http://file.scirp.org/pdf/AJPS_2017051714172937.pdf
Dara, S. K., S. S. Dara, S.S.R. Dara, and T. Anderson. 2016. First report of three entomopathogenic fungi offering protection against the plant pathogen, Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. vasinfectum. UC ANR eJournal Strawberries and Vegetables. https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=22199
Koike, S. T., G. T. Browne, and T. R. Gordon. 2013. UC IPM pest management guidelines: Strawberry diseases. UC ANR Publication 3468. http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/r734101511.html
Partridge, D. 2003. Macrophomina phaseolina. PP728 Pathogen Profiles, Department of Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University. https://projects.ncsu.edu/cals/course/pp728/Macrophomina/macrophominia_phaseolinia.HTM
Vasebi, Y., N. Safaie, and A. Alizadeh. 2013. Biological control of soybean charcoal root rot disease using bacterial and fungal antagonists in vitro and greenhouse condition. J. Crop Prot. 2(2): 139-150.
- Author: Surendra K. Dara
- Author: Dave Peck, Manzanita Berry Farms
In a continuous effort to explore the potential of additive, soil amendment, biostimulant, and other products, a new study was conducted in a conventional strawberry field at the Manzanita Berry Farms in Santa Maria. The following treatments were administered at different times, from planting till the end of production season, as requested by the manufacturer.
- Untreated control: Other than the soil incorporated fertilizers during the field preparation, no other nutrient inputs were added during the study.
- Grower standard: Transplants were dipped in Switch 62.5WG (cyprodinil+fludioxonil, at 5 oz/100 gal) before planting and a proprietary nutrient regimen that included administration of a humic acid-based product was followed.
- Innovak Global regimen: Nutrisorb-L (a blend of polyhydroxy carboxylic acids) at 28 fl oz/ac, starting 2 wk after planting and every 3 wk thereafter through drip. Packhard (carboxylic acids with calcium and boron) at 28 fl oz/ac, starting at the first fruit set (early January) and every 2 wk thereafter as a foliar spray.
- TerraVesco regimen: A microbe-rich Vermi-extract (worm extract) at 10% vol/vol as a transplant dip for 3 hours, followed by application through drip at 7.5 gal/ac after planting, and again in December, 2017 and January, 2018.
- Fertum regimen: Transplant dip in 1% vol/vol of Germinal Plus (a product from marine algae), followed by drip applications of Booster (a biostimulant and a natural organic fertilizer made from seaweed) at 0.5 gal/ac in late November and late December, 201; Silicium PK (a biostimulant and a natural organic fertilizer based on silicon enriched with phosphorus, potassium and seaweed extracts) at 0.5 gal/ac late December, 2017 and once a month starting from mid February to early July, 2018; and Foliar (a biostimulant and a natural organic fertilizer from marine algae) at 0.5 gal/ac in mid and late January.
- Shemin Garden regimen: EcoSil (a silica fertilizer) at 800 ml/ac once a month starting from early December, 2017 to May, 2018 through drip, and at 200 ml/ac in early May and June, 2018 as a foliar spray; ComCat (based on a plant extract) at 20 gr/ac and EcoFlora (a consortium of Azotobacter spp., Bacillus spp., Paenibacillus spp., Pseudomonas sp., Trichoderma spp., and Streptomyces spp.) at 12 oz/ac one week after EcoSil through drip until May, 2018 and ComCat at 10 gr/ac and EcoFlora at 12 oz/ac as a foliar spray in May and June, 2018.
- GrowCentia regimen-low: Yeti containing 1% bacterial culture (of Pseudomonas putida, Citrobacter freundii, Comamonas testosterone, and Enterobacter cloacae) and 2% alfalfa extract applied at 0.6 ml/gal through drip for 90 min weekly from the first drip application.
- GrowCentia regimen-high: Yeti at 1 ml/gal through drip for 90 min weekly from the first drip application.
- NanoChem regimen: EX10, a biodegradable fertilizer additive containing thermal polyaspartate at 1 qrt/ac through first drip after planting with follow up applications in early January (first bloom), mid February, and mid May, 2018. The active ingredient binds with cations such as ammonium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and zinc and improves their availability for the plant.
- BiOWiSH regimen 1: Formula 1 at 1.33 oz/gal for transplant dip followed by 3.53 oz/ac through drip starting 2 wk after planting and every 4-5 wk thereafter.
- BiOWiSH regimen 2: Formula 1 at 1.33 oz/gal for transplant dip followed by 3.53 oz/ac as a foliar srpay starting 2 wk after planting and every 4-5 wk thereafter.
- BiOWiSH regimen 3: Formula 1 at 1.33 oz/gal for transplant dip followed by 3.53 oz/ac through drip starting 2 wk after planting alternated with a foliar spray every 4-5 wk.
- BiOWiSH regimen 4: Formula 1 at 1.33 oz/gal for transplant dip followed by BiOWiSH Crop 16-40-0, a microbial consortium (Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, B. lichenoformis, B. pumilus, and B. subtilis)at 3.53 oz/ac through drip starting 2 wk after planting and every 4-5 wk thereafter.
Each treatment contained a 165' long 5.7' wide bed and replicated four times in a randomized complete block design. A 15' long plot in the center of the bed was marked and netted for collecting yield and some other parameters that were compared. Strawberry cultivar BG 6-30214 was planted on 7 November, 2017. Other than the untreated control, all other products were administered on top of the grower standard fertility program. However, only the grower standard transplants were dipped in Switch 62.5WG before planting.
Various parameters were measured during the vegetative growth and fruit production periods to evaluate the impact of the treatments on crop growth, health, and yield. Data were analyzed using ANOVA and LSD test was used to separate significant means.
Transplant treatment (above) and drip application (below). Photos by Tamas Zold
Canopy growth: Canopy growth was observed on 11 December, 2017, 7 and 30 January, and 8 February, 2018 by measuring the size of the canopy along and across the length of the bed from 20 random plants per bed and calculating the area. Canopy size significantly (P = 0.0261) different among the treatments only on the last observation date where plants treated with EX10 and the GrowCentia product at the low concentration were larger than those in the grower standard.
Electrical conductivity and temperature of soil: From two random location on each bed, electrical conductivity (EC in dS/m) and temperature (oC) were measured about 3 inches deep from the surface on 12 and 25 January, 7 February, 19 March, 18 April, and 29 May, 2018. Only soil temperature on 25 January significantly (P = 0.0007) varied among treatments where the difference between the highest (untreated control) and the lowest (Vermi-extract) values was 0.8oC.
Dead plants: The number of dead plants represents empty spots in the bed due to the death of transplants. There were no obvious signs of disease or a particular stress factor associated with those plants except that they were randomly distributed within each bed and throughout the field. When counted on 18 April, 2018, BiOWiSH regimen 4, Fertum regimen, GrowCentia product at the high rate, and Innovak Global regimen had
Fruit diseases: Fruit harvested on 12 March, 3 and 13 April, and 17 May, 2018 from each marked plot was incubated at room temperature in dark in plastic containers and the fungal growth was rated 3 and 5 days after harvest (DAH) using a scale of 0 to 4 where 0=no fungal growth, 1=1-25%, 2=26-50%, 3=51-75%, and 4=76-100% fungal growth. Botrytis fruit rot or grey mold was predominant during the first two observation dates and the growth of other fungi (possibly Rhizopus spp.) was also seen during the last two dates. In general, fruit disease occurred at low levels throughout the observation period with
Sugar content in fruit: Sugar content was measured from two harvest-ready berries per bed on 17 May, 2018 using a handheld refractometer. Sugar content varied from 8.06 oBx (Innovak Global regimen) to 9.53 oBx (grower standard).
Fruit firmness: Fruit firmness was measured from eight randomly collected harvest-ready berries from each bed on 28 June, 2018. Firmness varied from 0.82 kgf (Fertum and Shemin Garden regimens) to 0.98 kgf (untreated control).
Fruit yield:Strawberries were harvested from 6 February to 22 June, 2018 on 36 dates. When compared to the grower standard, the marketable berry yield was 16.2, 15.1, 13.7, and 13% higher in Fertum regimen, EX10 treatment, Innovak Global regimen, and BiOWiSH regimen 4, respectively. The marketable berry yield was 9.8, 9, 7.5, and 6.8% higher in those respective treatments over the yield from untreated control.
It took 23 harvest dates in three months (from February to April, 2018) to obtain the first third of the total seasonal yield while the remaining two-thirds were obtained from seven harvest dates in May and six dates in June. Marketable fruit yield was higher than the grower standard in all treatments and higher than the untreated control in most treatments.
In general, fruit yields were higher and the pest and disease pressure was lower than usual during the study period. Aleo, a garlic oil based fungicide, at lower label rates was periodically used for disease management and bug vacuums were operated a few times against the western tarnished plant bug as a standard across all treatments.
This study evaluated some treatment regimens as recommended by the collaborating manufacturers and some of them appear to have a potential for use in strawberry production. These results help the manufacturers fine tune their recommendations for achieving better yields through additional studies.
Acknowledgments: We thank the planting and harvest crew at Manzanita Berry Farms for their help with the crop production aspects, Chris Martinez, Tamas Zold, and Maria Murrietta for their technical assistance, Sumanth Dara for statistical analysis, and the support of the industry collaborators who funded the study.