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Keywords:

  • decision support system;
  • integrated pest management;
  • Olea europaea

Although much is known about the effect of climatic conditions on the development of peacock leaf spot of olive, field-operational models predicting disease outbreaks are lacking. With the aim of developing such models, a 10-year survey was conducted to relate leaf infection to climate parameters that can be easily monitored in the field. As outbreaks of disease are known to be linked to rain, models were evaluated for their ability to predict whether infection would occur following a rain event, depending on air temperature and duration of relative humidity above 85%. A total of 134 rain events followed by confirmed leaf infection and 191 rain events not followed by detectable infection were examined. The field data were adequately fitted (both specificity and sensitivity >0·97) with either a multilayer neural network or with two of six tested regression models describing high boundary values of high humidity duration, above which no infection occurred over the temperature range, and low boundary values below which no infection occurred. The data also allowed the selection of a model successfully relating the duration of latent period (time between infection and the first detection of leaf spots) as a function of air temperature after the beginning of rain (R2 > 0·98). The predictive abilities of these models were confirmed during 2 years of testing in commercial olive orchards in southern France. They should thus provide useful forecasting tools for the rational application of treatments and foster a reduction in fungicide use against this major disease of olive.