One hundred and thirty-three fungal isolates, pathogenic to green foxtail, were evaluated for weed control potential under controlled conditions. To determine weed control efficacy, these pathogens were applied as spore or mycelial suspensions at approximately 105 propagules ml−1 to green foxtail at the three-leaf stage. One week after inoculation, most isolates caused only minor injury to the plants, but 15 isolates caused 50 to 100% disease. Among the most efficacious isolates, only those of Pyricularia setariae exhibited strong host specificity to the target weed, revealing no significant pathogenicity on 28 other plant species tested, including many important crops such as wheat, barley, and oat. On green foxtail leaves, conidia of this fungus germinated readily at 14, 20, and 26 C, but the process of germination and appressorial formation was more rapid at the higher temperatures. The fungus applied at the concentration of 105 spores ml−1 reduced weed fresh weight by 34% 7 d after the treatment when compared with controls, whereas a concentration of 107 spores ml−1 reduced fresh weight by 87%. This efficacy was comparable with that of the herbicide sethoxydim. When applied to the weed at the one- to four-leaf stages, the fungus reduced green foxtail fresh weight by more than 80%. Efficacy was slightly lower on plants at the five-leaf stage or older. On the green foxtail biotype resistant to the herbicide sethoxydim, P. setariae caused 80% fresh weight reduction compared with untreated controls, as opposed to 17% achieved with the herbicide. At 20 C, the fungus required a minimum of 6-h dew period to initiate infection, but a 10-h dew period was needed to cause severe damage to green foxtail.
Nomenclature: Sethoxydim; green foxtail, Setaria viridis (L.) Beauv. SETVI; barley, Hordeum vulgare L.; oat, Avena sativa L.; wheat, Triticum aestivum L.