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Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Online
Volume 49, Issue 2 — March 2023

The Influence of Chitin- and Chitosan-Based Soil Amendments on Pathogen Severity of Apple and Pear Scab

Glynn C. Percival, Sean Graham, Christopher Percival, and Jonathan Banks

Abstract: Apple and pear scab are foliar pathogens of apple and pear trees. Unmanaged, yield and aesthetic losses can be severe. The risk of resistance associated with over-reliance on fungicides means novel pathogen management methods and products are increasingly required. Chitin and chitosan are widely recognised as induced resistance (IR) agents that trigger plant defence responses that in turn enhance plant resilience to pathogen ingress. A container and field trial was conducted using apple (Malus sylvestris) and pear (Pyrus communis ‘Conference’) respectively to assess the efficacy of a range of liquid and granular chitin/chitosan-based IR agents and fertilisers against apple and pear scab. A synthetic fungicide (penconazole) spray program used within the UK for apple and pear scab control was included for comparison. Application of chitin/chitosan IR agents at concentrations above 1% caused phytotoxicity. Limited efficacy as scab protectants was also demonstrated when chitin/chitosan IR agents were applied at concentrations of 0.25%. However, chitin IR agents when applied at 0.5% and 1% and chitosan IR agents at 1% demonstrated efficacy as scab protectants and resulted in an increased leaf chlorophyll content, increased fruit yield, and reduced leaf scab severity when compared against the watered control. Only one of three chitin/chitosan fertilisers evaluated demonstrated efficacy as scab protectants (liquid chitosan). A synthetic fungicide penconazole spray program provided the greatest protection against apple and pear scab in the container trials. However, under field conditions the degree of scab control following application of chitin and chitosan at 1% and the chitosan containing fertiliser liquid chitosan was statistically comparable to fungicide treated trees. Results suggest application of an appropriate chitin/chitosan IR agent(s) and fertiliser offers a useful addition to existing methods of apple and pear scab management under field and container conditions.

Keywords: Fungicides; Integrated Disease Management; Orchard Management; Pathogen Control; Plant Health Care; Urban Landscapes; Venturia inaequalis; V. pirina

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