In recent years, lenticel rot of potato tubers, caused by the bacterium Erwinia carotovora subsp. carotovora, has become an economically important postharvest disease for Kern County growers. Disease symptoms are sunken and rotted tissue surrounding tuber lenticels, which develop after harvest and packing. In the field, the bacterium also causes Erwinia early dying, characterized by wilt and progressive necrosis of leaves, eventually resulting in potato plant death. This study confirms Erwinia carotovora subsp. carotovora as the causal agent of both problems in Kern County and establishes the link between the field and postharvest diseases. Control of both diseases is difficult and relies on the integration of cultural methods, from preplant seed-piece handling to postharvest processing.
In recent years, carrot growers in the San Joaquin Valley have suffered economic losses due to cavity spot, a soilborne disease, despite frequent applications of the fungicide mefenoxam. Although the pathogen remained highly sensitive to mefenoxam in laboratory studies, the effect-ive dosage of the fungicide was apparently compromised in certain fields. Compared to its longevity in soils with no history of mefenoxam use, such as fields using organic production methods, the fungicide degraded rapidly in soil from fields with repeated mefenoxam use. Our research reveals that repeated ap-plications of the fungicide to soil can increase the activity of microorganisms that de-grade it, potentially reducing its efficacy against cavity spot. This is problematic in California since mefenoxam is the only fungicide available to carrot growers for cavity spot control. It may be prudent to practice long crop rotations and to limit use of mefenox-am, where possible.
In 1998, following the very wet EI Niño weather event, a devastating outbreak of rust disease severely damaged the garlic crop in California. The disease also occurred in 1999 and 2000, indicating that rust may have developed into an annual problem. We identified the pathogen as Puccinia allii. In our study, it infected allium crops such as garlic, onion and chives, but not leek, elephant garlic or shallot. Currently registered materials did not control the disease, but tebuconazole (Folicur) and azoxystrobin (Quadris) provided good protection against garlic rust. Based on our work, a Section 18 emergency exomption for tebuconazole was approved by state pesticide regulators. We tested 34 UC and industry garlic varieties and found that none were completely resistant to garlic rust.