Fusarium wilt of lettuce, first recognized in Japan in 1955, has since been discovered in the United States (California in 1990, Arizona in 2001), Iran (1995), Taiwan (1998), and Italy (2001). In Arizona, the causal agent, Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lactucae, has been recovered from lettuce plants in 27 different lettuce fields during the 2001 to 2003 production seasons. Studies were initiated to examine the impact of planting date, cultivar, and stage of plant development on the incidence of disease in the field. In 2002 and 2003, tested lettuce cultivars were sown in at least one of the following planting windows; early-season (September), mid-season (October), and late-season (December). Within each planting window, significant differences in disease incidence among lettuce cultivars were noted at plant maturity. The mean incidence of Fusarium wilt on cultivars sown in September, October, and December was 92.3, 15.1. and 2.0%, respectively, in 2002 and 74.2, 5.1, and 0.7%, respectively, in 2003. The mean soil temperatures at the 10-cm depth during the September, October, and December plantings for both years were 26, 14, and 14°C, respectively. Initial symptoms of Fusarium wilt were apparent as early as 14 days after seeding, with increasing incidence of disease noted as the crop developed and reached maturity. Among all lettuce cultivars planted in September, only one and two cultivars of romaine in 2002 and 2003, respectively, reached maturity with ≤5% incidence of Fusarium wilt, whereas the lowest incidence of disease among crisphead, green leaf, red leaf, or butterhead cultivars was 73.7, 27.0, 20.2, and 65.7%, respectively, in 2002 and 62.1, 29.0, 100, and 100%, respectively, in 2003. For October plantings, all romaine cultivars had ≤5% incidence of Fusarium wilt at maturity, whereas disease incidence among tested cultivars of crisphead lettuce in 2002 and 2003 ranged from 0.8 to 66.8% and 0.3 to 43.3%, respectively. When planted in December, 82 and 88% of tested cultivars, including all romaine entries, reached maturity with ≤1% incidence of Fusarium wilt. Selection of appropriate lettuce cultivars and planting times should allow successful production of lettuce in the southwestern Arizona production region with minimal or no incidence of disease in fields infested with F. oxysporum f. sp. lactucae. On the other hand, successful production of lettuce in infested fields when temperatures favor disease development will not be possible until lettuce cultivars are developed that possess high tolerance or resistance to the pathogen.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science