Many of our sunflower production areas are experiencing good conditions and high humidity. Unfortunately, these same conditions are conducive to disease development. Hendrik Linde, Agronomist in the Free State, shares information about Alternaria Leaf Spot that he observed on sunflower plantings in earlier February. Severe infection can cause defoliation and consequent yield loss under hot and humid conditions. Alternaria infection is characterised by dark brown round to square lesions developing on leaves, stems, petioles and heads. Alternaria may also cause seedling blights. Spores survive in infected debris. Spores are spread by wind and splashing water. Dew is required for infection. The disease can be controlled with registered fungicides and resistant hybrids. Leaf symptoms can be confused with Septoria leaf Spot, microscopic confirmation is required.
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