Relationships between agronomic factors and epidemics of Phytophthora branch canker of citrus in southwestern Spain

Autores UPV
Revista European Journal of Plant Pathology


Phytophthora branch canker, caused by Phytophthora citrophthora, has been an increasing problem in clementine (Citrus reticulata) production in Spain during last years. The disease was particularly severe in the new citrus-growing areas of the southwestern coastal areas in Huelva Province. Recent studies revealed that disease emergence was not related to either genetic drift or host specificity changes in P. citrophthora population. Therefore, the possible association of agronomic factors with the disease was investigated. A total of 110 orchards were selected arbitrarily from the main citrus-growing areas in Huelva Province. The presence of branch cankers together with agronomic factors including soils, cultivars, rootstocks, irrigation, pruning, techniques to improve fruit production, fungicide treatments, presence of brown rot of fruit and frost damage were recorded. Logistic regression analysis was used to detect correlations between the agronomic factors studied and disease prevalence. Phytophthora branch canker was significantly associated with mature clementine orchards. Sweet orange and hybrid cultivars as well as young clementine orchards were less affected by the disease. Although disease was less frequent in Salorthid soils, alternative high resolution procedures are required to draw conclusions about the effect of soil properties on disease prevalence. As in other Phytophthora-induced diseases, soil flooding during the rainy season was correlated positively with the prevalence of branch cankers. Improving fruit production by branch scoring showed a strong positive correlation with Phytophthora branch canker. This is the first time that girdling has been associated with Phytophthora disease epidemics on a fruit tree crop, but further research is needed to determine the cause of this relationship. Cultural practices including pruning, regulated deficit irrigation, additional phosphonate sprays, and abiotic and disease factors such as frost damage and presence of brown rot of fruit were not significantly correlated with disease prevalence. © 2012 KNPV.