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Preventing Soil Inoculum of Calonectria pseudonaviculata from Splashing onto Healthy Boxwood Foliage by Mulching

Likins, T. M., Kong, P., Avenot, H. F., Marine, S. C., Baudoin, A., Hong, C. X.
Plant disease 2019 v.103 no.2 pp. 357-363
Buxus sempervirens, Calonectria, blight, emerging diseases, field experimentation, horticulturists, inoculum, landscapes, leaves, monitoring, mulching, soil, North Carolina, Virginia
Boxwood blight, caused by Calonectria pseudonaviculata, is an emerging disease of great concern to horticulturists in the United States and other affected countries. The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of mulching as a physical barrier to prevent soil inoculum from splashing onto healthy boxwood foliage. A field trial consisting of two treatments, mulched and nonmulched, was conducted under field conditions in Lowgap, North Carolina, and in a residential landscape setting near Richmond, Virginia, for 2 years at each site. Mulching efficacy was assessed by monitoring and comparing boxwood blight development on detector plants: containerized ‘Justin Brouwers’ boxwood, which were rotated through mulched and nonmulched plots at 1- and 2-week intervals in the Lowgap and Richmond sites, respectively. Boxwood blight was observed on detector plants in a combined 55 of the 88 monitoring periods during this study at the two sites. Mulching provided complete protection of Justin Brouwers boxwood from infection by C. pseudonaviculata soil inoculum during 33 of the 55 positive monitoring periods (60%) and good to excellent protection during 13 monitoring periods (24%). The potential applications of mulching for boxwood blight mitigation are discussed.