Epidemiology and Management of South American Leaf Blight on Rubber in Brazil

Abstract

The rubber tree (Hevea spp.) is one of the main forest crops in tropical regions due commercialization of natural rubber. Brazil currently imports most rubber that is consumed. According to the International Rubber Study Group, for an annual consumption of 350,000 tons in Brazil, 135,000 tons were produced, whereas 215,000 tons were imported. This failure of rubber cultivation in Brazil is primarily due to South American leaf blight (SALB), a disease caused by the fungus Microcyclus ulei (P. Henn. v. Arx.). The fungus is present in all Brazilian rubber-producing regions and attacks young leaflets, causing abscission and, ultimately, death of the tree. This disease occurs in almost all areas of rubber tree plantations in Central and South America. Strategies used to manage SALB are based on the use of fungicides in nurseries and young plantations and the use of resistant clones; on phenological aspects, taking into account the leaf shedding patterns of adult rubber trees, which in certain environments provide defense in addition to resistance; and on climatic factors that are favorable or unfavorable to epidemic development. The aim of this chapter was to describe all aspects related to the epidemiology and management of leaf blight in Brazil

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