The New York table beet industry is expanding and has unique challenges to minimize crop loss in both conventional and organic production. Diseases may reduce plant population density and increase heterogeneity in a stand, reduce the duration of time foliage is healthy, and decrease the yield of marketable roots. Rhizoctonia solani
Kuhn and Pythiumultimum
Trow are dominant in the pathogen complex affecting crop stand and root health. Cercospora leaf spot (CLS) caused by the fungus, Cercospora beticola
Sacc., is a highly destructive disease affecting foliar health. In conventional table beet production, fungicides are applied in-furrow and at emergence for early season and root disease control, and applied to foliage periodically thereafter for foliar disease control. Resistance within C. beticola
populations to single-site mode-of-action fungicides poses the most significant threat to the resilience of conventional disease management. An integrated approach to reduce pesticide application when not economically warranted (i.e., a false positive) is urgently required. For foliar disease, improved scheduling of fungicides may reduce usage without loss of disease control. For soilborne diseases, pre-plant quantification of soilborne inoculum may support the selection of fields with lower inoculum densities to minimize risk of early season and root disease. For organic production, some approved products have moderate efficacy for foliar disease control, but strategies to reduce inoculum and select fields at lowest risk of disease will be paramount. Crop rotation has shown promise for disease management, but broad host range of several of the major soilborne pathogens limits the utility of this method in the production region. Enhanced knowledge of cultivar susceptibility to local populations of fungal pathogens responsible for foliar and root diseases is paramount, and adoption of commercially acceptable cultivars with improved resistance to CLS and Rhizoctonia crown and root rot has potential to transform disease management strategies for the New York table beet industry.
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