The Spatial and Temporal Distribution and Management of Tomato Bacterial Wilt on Virginia's Eastern Shore
In 2007 and 2008 more than 100 million dollars of fresh market tomatoes were grown in Virginia, with the majority of production occurring on the Eastern Shore of Virginia (ESV), according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Bacterial wilt of tomato, caused by Ralstonia solanacearum (Smith) and Yabucchi et al., is the most devastating disease of tomato on the ESV. Four 'observational trials' were conducted on the ESV over three growing seasons to determine the temporal and spatial distribution of this disease in commercial tomato fields. Plants were assessed at approximately one-week intervals throughout the growing seasons and the incidence of bacterial wilt for each individual plant was recorded. A steady increase in both disease incidence and clustered distribution of the disease within rows was observed as the growing season progressed. Positive correlations between disease incidence and percentage of rows exhibiting a significant clustered distribution occurred in all trials, which indicated an increase in clustered distribution as disease incidence increased.
Research trials were conducted over three years, beginning in the summer of 2007, to investigate the effects of tomato bacterial wilt resistant cultivars on the ESV. In 2008 and 2009, the selective, systemic compound which induces host plant resistance, acibenzolar-S-methyl (ASM) was incorporated into resistant cultivar trials. Results from the 2007 trial revealed significant resistance in some of the breeding lines, CRA 66 and PI 126408. The 2008 and 2009 trials revealed that ASM was not effective at reducing levels of bacterial wilt. Grafted transplants in the spring trials of 2008 and 2009 had varied results in resistance and yield. Results revealed the tomato cultivar BHN 669 was an excellent resistant cultivar with promising yield potential and fruit quality.