Contrasted effects of temperature during defoliation vs. refoliation periods on the infection of rubber powdery mildew (Oidium heveae) in Xishuangbanna, China
Rubber powdery mildew caused by the foliar fungi Oidium heveae is one of the main diseases affecting rubber plantations (Hevea brasiliensis) worldwide. It is particularly serious in sub-optimal growing areas, such as Xishuangbanna in SW China. To prevent and control this disease, fungicides causing serious environmental problems are widely used. Strong correlations between the infection level and the temperature variables were reported previously, but they were related to monthly data that did not allow unraveling the patterns during the entire sensitive period. We correlated the infection level of powdery mildew of rubber trees recorded over 2003–2011 with antecedent 365 days daily temperature variables using partial least squares (PLS) regression. Our PLS regression results showed that the infection level of powdery mildew responded differently to the temperature variables of the defoliation and refoliation periods. Further analysis with Kriging interpolation showed that the infection level increased by 20% and 11%, respectively, per 1 °C rise of the daily maximum and mean temperature in the defoliation season, while it decreased by 8% and 10%, respectively, per 1 °C rise of the daily maximum and temperature difference in the refoliation season. This pattern was likely linked to the effects of temperature on leaf phenology. It seems highly possible that the infection level of powdery mildew increases, as increasing trends of maximum temperature and mean temperature during the defoliation continue.