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Keywords:

  • Beta vulgaris;
  • Cercospora beticola;
  • disease resistance;
  • host plant resistance;
  • root yield

Abstract

This report documents the difficulty breeders have experienced in combining resistance to Cercospora leaf spot (causal agent Cercospora beticola Sacc.) with high yield in sugarbeet (Beta vulgaris L.). Forty commercial hybrids, all recommended for Cercospora-threat areas, were grown in a Cercospora-free and a diseased (inoculated) environment in 1991 and 1992. A 2.9 Mg/ha decrease in root yield associated with each increment increase in susceptibility confirmed that under a severe epiphytotic (1991) Cercospora resistance provided substantial protection. Under less-severe disease conditions (1992) there was no apparent relationship between yield and resistance, suggesting that the benefits of resistance were similar to the yield potential sacrificed to obtain the resistance. In the absence of the disease, root yields increased 2.7 Mg/ha for each increment of increased susceptibility. There was no evidence of association between sucrose concentration and resistance in the Cercospora-free environment. Despite the limited efforts and/or success in developing resistant commercial hybrids, the demonstrated ability of Cercospora to produce fungicide-resistant strains and the possibility that effective fungicides will not be available provide incentives to seek genetic resistance through breeding efforts.