Science Into Practice - Predicting outbreaks of mildew on roses

Windows-based decision-support software has been developed with East Malling Research to forecast powdery and downy mildew on roses and act as an early warning system to help growers make decisions relating to the management of these two economically important diseases.

The powdery mildew model forecasts daily infection levels and factors in past levels of temperature, relative humidity and fungicide applications. It can help disease management through adjusting application rates, intervals or volumes and fungicide choice.

The downy mildew model forecasts the progress of infection and can take into account past levels of rainfall, leaf wetness, temperature and relative humidity.

The decision-support tool is intended to assist growers during periods when plant shoot growth is not rapid or where weather conditions are not very favourable for mildew development.

The programme, first run on a crop of container-grown roses at Wharton's Nurseries in 2010, determined the need for a powdery mildew protective spray programme. Over the April-August trial period, the conventional treatment received nine fungicide sprays, compared with seven using the model-based management programme - a cost reduction of more than £400 per hectare.

The software, which has undergone extensive trialling on a number of commercial nurseries, will be finalised and made available to industry later this year.

Dates for your diary

1 March: HDC Pepper Workshop, Harlow, Essex.

6 March: HDC Fruit Agronomists' Day, East Malling Research, Kent.

Horticultural Development Company

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