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Effects of broccoli rotation on lettuce drop caused by Sclerotinia minor and on the population density of sclerotia in soil


Field experiments were conducted at Spence Road site and at the Hartnell College East Campus site in Salinas, CA, to determine the effects of crop rotation with broccoli or a fallow period on lettuce drop caused by Sclerotinia minor and the density of pathogen sclerotia in the soil. Treatments at the Spence Road site with low inoculum density (cm(3) Of Soil) distributed randomly included: successive crops of lettuce (LLL), lettuce rotated with broccoli (LBL), and lettuce followed by a fallow period (LFL). Treatments at the Hartnell site with high inoculum density (>7 sclerotia per too cm(3) Of Soil) distributed uniformly included: continuous lettuce (LLLL), broccoli-lettuce-broccoli-lettuce (BLBL), broccoli-broccoli-lettuce-lettuce (BBLL), and fallow-lettuce-fallow-lettuce (FLFL). At the Spence Road site, continuous lettuce did not increase lettuce drop incidence for at least 2 years, although an increase in soilborne sclerotia was observed annually but was below the threshold at which a correlation between inoculum density and disease incidence is observed. Rotation with broccoli resulted in small reductions in disease incidence only in the first year. The density of sclerotia was lowest in the LFL treatment, and the highest in the LLL. At the Hartnell site, rotation with broccoli significantly reduced both sclerotia and lettuce drop incidence. The number of broccoli crops rather than the sequence of lettuce rotations with broccoli was critical for reducing the numbers of S. minor sclerotia in soil. Fallowing after a lettuce crop resulted in marginal reductions in sclerotia and lettuce drop incidence. Viability of recovered sclerotia was not significantly different between treatments, although differences between seasons were detected. Results suggest that rotations with broccoli can be a practical lettuce drop management strategy.

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