Effects of Leaf Wetness Duration, Temperature, and Host Phenological Stage on Infection of Walnut by Xanthomonas arboricola pv. juglandis

Bacterial blight, caused by Xanthomonas arboricola pv. juglandis, is a significant disease affecting walnut production worldwide. Outbreaks are most severe in spring, and closely tied to host phenology and weather conditions. Pathogen infections are mainly observed in catkins, female flowers, leaves, and fruits. In this study, the effect of wetness duration and temperature on walnut infections by X. arboricola pv. juglandis was determined through two independent experiments conducted under controlled environmental conditions. The combined effect of both climatic parameters on disease severity was quantified using a third-order polynomial equation. The model obtained by linear regression and backward elimination technique fitted well to the data (R2 = 0.94 and R2adj = 0.93). The predictive capacity of the forecasting model was evaluated on pathogen-inoculated walnut plants exposed to different wetness duration–temperature combinations under Mediterranean field conditions. Observed disease severity in all events aligned with predicted infection risk. Additionally, the relationship between leaf and fruit age and the disease severity was quantified and modelled. A prediction model, which has been referred to as the WalBlight-risk model, is proposed for evaluation as an advisory system for timing bactericide sprays to manage bacterial blight in Mediterranean walnut orchards ​
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