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Inoculum density and spatial pattern of Rhizoctonia solani in field plots of Solanum tuberosum: effects of cropping frequency



Bait plants, comprising micropropagated and commercial seed tubers, were used to estimate the effects of rotation on the density and spatial pattern of inoculum of Rhizoctonia solani in large field plots of potatoes. Soilborne inoculum of R. solani produced economically significant levels of stem canker and its incidence and severity varied with rotation, with most disease in 2-year and less in 4- and 6-year rotations. The rates of loss of inoculum during intercrop periods differed amongst rotations with a rapid fall to low levels occurring after 1 year in a 6-year rotation and after 2 years in a 4-year rotation. Replenishment of inoculum to soil was rapid following the growth of a susceptible crop, with comparatively high levels of infection and disease, even in long rotations. Disease occurred in patches and the size of patches and the density of R. solani within patches differed with cropping frequency. The degree of spatial autocorrelation also differed amongst rotations but there was no evidence for any significant differences in the rate of change of spatial autocorrelation during intercrop periods in the three rotations.