Sphaeropsis sapinea and Water Stress in a Red Pine Plantation in Central Wisconsin

Phytopathology. 1997 Apr;87(4):429-34. doi: 10.1094/PHYTO.1997.87.4.429.


ABSTRACT A study was conducted to determine the effects of water stress resulting from competing vegetation on disease development of Sphaeropsis sapinea in red pine plantations. A 9-year-old plantation was selected in 1992 and experiments were conducted for three consecutive years. Four treatments were assigned at random to individual trees: no treatment, herbicide to kill surrounding weeds, supplemental water, and both herbicide and supplemental water. Two isolates of each S. sapinea morphotype (A and B) were used to inoculate wounded lateral shoots. Disease development was measured as the maximum distance below the inoculation site at which necrotic needles were observed. Nonwatered trees with competing vegetation (nontreated condition) had significantly lower predawn needle water potentials (more water stress) and more severe disease development than trees that received the herbicide, water, or combined herbicide and water treatments. The most severe disease occurred in the driest year and the least in the wettest year. Competing vegetation indirectly affected disease development by inducing water stress, even in relatively moist years, on trees previously considered well established. Isolates of morphotype A were more aggressive than isolates of morphotype B. Conclusions from this research have implications for sustainable management of the region's conifer forests.