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  Section: Principles of Horticulture » Plant protection
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Plant protection
  Physical control
  Cultural control
  Biological control
  Chemical control
  Insecticides and acaricides
  Application of herbicides and pesticides
  Toxicity aspects of pesticides
  Selection for plant resistance
  Integrated control
  Supervised control
  Legislative control

Fungicides must act against the disease, but not seriously interfere with plant activity. Protectant chemicals prevent the entry of hyphae into roots and the germination of spores into leaves and other aerial organs (see Figure 15.4). Systemic chemicals enter roots, stems and leaves, and are translocated to sites where they may affect hyphal growth and prevent spore production. Although there are many fungicidal chemical groups, four are chosen here as examples:
  • Inorganic chemicals contain no carbon. Two chemicals are available to amateur and professional growers. Commercially formulated compounds of copper salts mixed with slaked lime (Bordeaux mixture) form a protective barrier to fungi such as potato blight when sprayed onto the leaf. Fine-grained (colloidal) sulphur controls powdery mildews and apple scab.
  • Organic chemicals contain carbon. Mancozeb (dithiocarbamate group) and related synthetic compounds act protectively on a wide range of quite different foliar diseases, such as downy mildews, celery leaf spot and rusts, by preventing spore germination. Mancozeb is available to both amateur and professional growers.
  • Carbendazim (benzimidazole group) is available only to professional growers. It is an example of a systemic ingredient, which moves upwards through the plant’s xylem tissues, slowing hyphal growth and spore production of fungal wilts, powdery mildews and many leaf spot organisms. Damping off, potato blight and downy mildews are not controlled by chemicals within this chemical group. Many different systemic groups are now used in horticulture.
  • Myclobutanil belongs to the conazole group. It is available to both amateur and professional growers. It is protectant and systemic, on powdery mildews, black spot of rose and apple scab.

Resistance to pesticides

The development of resistant individuals from the millions of susceptible weeds, pests and diseases occurs most rapidly when exposure to a particular chemical is continuous or when a pesticide acts against only one body process of the organism. Resistance, e.g. in powdery mildews, to one member, e.g. carbendazin, of a chemical group confers resistance to other chemicals in the same benzimidazole group. Growers should therefore follow the strategy of alternating between different groups and not simply changing active ingredients. Particular care should be taken with systemic chemicals that present to the organism inside the plant a relatively weak concentration against which the organism can develop resistance. Increase in dosage of the chemical will not, in general, provide a better control against resistant strains. Biological control, unlike chemical control, does not create resistant pests.


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