A Medium-Term Field Experiment to Study the Effect of Managing Soil Chemical Properties on Fusarium Wilt in Banana (Musa AAA)

Segura Mena, R.; Stoorvogel, J.J.; Blanco, Fabio; Sandoval, Jorge A.


Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense (Foc) is a soil-borne fungus causing Fusarium wilt (FW) in banana. It is practically impossible to eradicate Foc in soils. Our understanding of soil–Foc–banana interactions is hampered by inconsistent research results caused by agro-ecological variability and the complexity of the soil system. This study aimed to evaluate the options to manage soil chemical properties to reduce disease expression and maintain banana production. The expression of FW (Foc Race 1) and the agronomic performance of the Gros Michel (Musa AAA) banana were evaluated in two medium-term factorial field experiments at representative locations in the Costa Rican banana region. In the experiments, five soil chemical properties (pH, N, Ca, Mg, and Mn) were managed to achieve a low and a high level. Plant mortality caused by FW, soil fertility, plant nutrition, and agronomic performance were monitored during four crop cycles. After the first crop cycle, the treatments started to present differences in plant mortality. There was a significant rise of plant mortality after the second crop cycle resulting in a cumulative plant mortality exceeding 60% in both experiments. A lower soil pH consistently resulted in significantly higher plant mortality. The interactions between soil properties (pH-N, pH-CaMg, pH-Mn, N-Mn, and CaMg-Mn) also influenced plant mortality. Soil N was the most significant treatment affecting leaf nutrient concentrations, bunch weight, and clusters per bunch. The experiments confirmed the potential role of soil management in FW expression in banana. Our results suggest that the management of soil chemical properties in the conditions here studied may help to reduce the expression rate of FW, but not to control the disease in the long run. View Full-Text