Using alternative cultural practices could be an attractive option to reduce fungicide without impairing Septoria leaf blotch disease (caused by Mycosphaerella graminicola, anamorph: Septoria tritici) control in irrigated durum wheat fields. Association between common cultural practices and disease related traits were assessed from data collected on a sample of 48 durum wheat fields. Results suggested that relying exclusively on one component rather than integrating a combination of practices is not cost effective to alleviate Septoria leaf blotch disease impact on grain yield. Disease severity increase was attributed to the extensive use of a susceptible cultivar Karim, early sowing, higher seeding rate, on farm produced seeds, greater nitrogen rates, and an ineffective fungicide application explaining 81.7% of the total variability of the surveyed durum wheat fields. Fungicide application reduced Septoria leaf blotch disease infection and its spread in treated fields but did not prevent infection. Fungicide application effect was lower for both low (less than 10%) and high (greater than 60%) severity, but it was effective when severity ranged from 40% and 50%. Lower critical Septoria leaf blotch disease threshold ranging between 10 to 20 % appeared to be adequate in reducing Septoria leaf blotch disease impact on grain yield. The study shows that lack of disease damage assessment is the most important component of farmers decision-making process with regard to the treatment dates and number of fungicide applications. Implementing a suitable integrated Septoria leaf blotch disease management program in irrigated durum wheat areas should be sought by varying cultural practices options.
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