Background and Aims
Crop protection strategies, based on preventing quantitative crop losses rather than pest outbreaks, are being developed as a promising way to reduce fungicide use. The Bastiaans' model was applied to winter wheat crops (Triticum aestivum) affected by leaf rust (Puccinia triticina) and Septoria tritici blotch (STB; Mycosphaerella graminicola) under a range of crop management conditions. This study examined (a) whether green leaf area per layer accurately accounts for growth loss; and (b) whether from growth loss it is possible to derive yield loss accurately and simply.
Over 5 years of field experiments, numerous green leaf area dynamics were analysed during the post-anthesis period on wheat crops using natural aerial epidemics of leaf rust and STB.
When radiation use efficiency (RUE) was derived from bulk green leaf area index (GLAI), RUEbulk was hardly accurate and exhibited large variations among diseased wheat crops, thus extending outside the biological range. In contrast, when RUE was derived from GLAI loss per layer, RUElayer was a more accurate calculation and fell within the biological range. In one situation out of 13, no significant shift in the RUElayer of diseased crops vs. healthy crops was observed. A single linear relationship linked yield to post-anthesis accumulated growth for all treatments. Its slope, not different from 1, suggests that the allocation of post-anthesis photosynthates to grains was not affected by the late occurring diseases under study. The mobilization of pre-anthesis reserves completely accounted for the intercept value.
The results strongly suggest that a simple model based on green leaf area per layer and pre-anthesis reserves can predict both growth and yield of wheat suffering from late epidemics of foliar diseases over a range of crop practices. It could help in better understanding how crop structure and reserve management contribute to tolerance of wheat genotypes to leaf diseases.