Control of Septoria tritici blotch by winter wheat cultivar mixtures: Meta-analysis of 19 years of cultivar trials

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Wheat is the most commonly grown cereal crop in Europe and in major parts of Europe the most yield limiting disease is Septoria tritici blotch (STB) caused by Zymoseptoria tritici. Currently, the control of the disease depends on cultivar resistance and substantial input of fungicides. The impact of using mixtures of elite cultivars as an alternative was investigated through a meta-analysis based on trial data from the Danish national cultivar testing. The cultivar testing includes a four-way cultivar mixture every year and in these trials STB severity and yield have been monitored at multiple locations between 1995 and 2017. Results from 19 years of cultivar testing trials provided a data set for 406 trials from which the effect of mixtures was evaluated. The meta-analysis revealed that cultivar mixtures reduced STB severity with 10.6% and increased yields with 1.4% across all trials. The effects were greatest in untreated trials where STB severity was reduced with 17% and yields increased with 2.4%. The mixtures did not only perform better than the average of their component cultivars grown as pure stand, they also performed better than the average of the four most grown cultivars in a given year. No relationship was found between disease pressure or location and the performance of the mixtures. The mixtures included in the cultivar testing were not designed to control STB and the results are therefore perceived as a baseline to the attainable disease control from mixtures. The use of cultivar mixtures is relevant for low input farming systems, but can also contribute to disease control in intensive farming systems. Cultivar mixtures have the potential to minimise dependency on fungicides as an important element in integrated pest management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107696
JournalField Crops Research
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Crop diversity, Integrated pest management, Mixing effect, Zymoseptoria tritici

ID: 236166423