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epper is affected by several diseases caused by fungi, bacteria, virus and mycoplasma, as well as by nutritional disorders. Crop loss due to diseases is very high in most countries. Major diseases of pepper in India are Phytophthora foot rot, Slow decline, Anthracnose (Fungal Pollu), Stunted disease (Little Leaf) and Phyllody. Phytophthora foot rot and Yellowing are the most dangerous diseases in Indonesia. In Malaysia the important diseases are Phytophthora foot rot, Black Berry, Wrinkled Leaf and Root galls. In Sri Lanka too, Phytophthora foot rot is a serious disease. Other diseases are Yellowing (Slow Wilt), Leaf Rot, Leaf Blight, Thread Blight and Little Leaf disease.


Phytophthora foot rot

This disease, commonly called Quick Wilt in India, is the most common of all the diseases that affect pepper and is a serious problem in all pepper producing countries (Fig.51). It is caused by Phytophthora capsici f. sp. piperis, which is a soil borne fungus. The crop loss varies from country to country and also within a country. In certain farms in India the crop loss from foot rot has been more than 30% in some years. Extensive research has been done on the etiology and control of the disease. In India the disease appears during South West Monsoon period, from June to August. Phytophthora infections in pepper are broadly classified into aerial and soil based. Aerial infections occur on the runner shoots, stem, foliage, spikes and branches causing blight, spike shedding, defoliation, die-back and even death of plants. Infections on runner shoots can reach the collar region of the plant at ground level and cause foot rot. P. capsici is essentially a soil borne pathogen and the disease may be spread by contact with soil particles or from water run off from affected areas. Symptoms may differ, based on the plant part infected. Infections on the runner shoots spread to tender leaves and shoots. The fungus sporulates abundantly, forming a white covering on the blighted tender shoots. The shoot infection leads to collar infection and sudden wilting of the plant when it reaches the main stem. If spikes are infected, the developing fruits and peduncle are blackened and are shed. With foliar infection, one or more black round spots appear on the leaves. These spots later enlarge and coalesce leading to defoliation. Branch infection causes drying and defoliation. Stem infection results in yellowing and blighting of stem and death of the affected plants. Infection on parts below ground, such as roots and the collar of the stem, is fatal. Infection of feeder roots causes rotting and degeneration and results in yellowing, defoliation and drying up of plants. Infection reaching the collar through roots of the lower nodes leads to yellowing and defoliation before the plant succumbs to infection. Such plants may remain alive for 2-3 years. Pepper Production Guide for Asia and The Pacific 77


There is no cultivated variety known which has resistance the disease. However, there are a few cultivars, like Narayakkodi, Kalluvally, Balankotta, Neelamundi, Mundi and Uthirankotta that have been identified as somewhat tolerant to the disease. Among other taxa, Piper colubrinum is highly resistant to Phytophthora capsici. An effort to transfer this resistance to high yielding pepper Fig.51. Phytophthora Foot rot affected varieties has been found to be pepper plant in India difficult. As such, there are no easy or effective methods for disease control via the resistance mechanism. Hence an integrated disease management approach, which involves cultural, chemical and biological measures, is recommended. Cultural measures include providing an efficient drainage system in the field, removal and burning of infected plants, proper shade regulation by lopping branches of the support trees and growing of cover crops. Spraying 1% Bordeaux mixture and drenching the base of the plant (to soak the roots) with copper oxychloride 0.2% at the beginning of the rainy season and repeat Bordeaux mixture spraying at the end of the rainy season, are the recommended chemical control measures. A third spray, again with 1% Bordeaux mixture is recommended, if the rainy season is prolonged. For biological control, fungi belonging to Trichoderma sp. and Gliocladium Source: India Institute of Spices Research, Kozhikode virens, which are antagonistic to Phytophthora, are applied to the soil in neem cake at a rate of 50gm/plant, where 125gm of the fungal mix is added to 50 kg of neem cake. Instead of neem cake, well-prepared compost can also be used as a carrier. It has been observed that application of Vesicular Arbuscular Mycorrhiza (VAM) in combination with beneficial microorganisms namely, Azotobacter and Azospirillum, which enhance rooting, is beneficial in reducing disease incidence. There is good relationship between environmental factors and the incidence of Phytophthora foot rot disease and control measures should be taken accordingly.

Pepper Production Guide for Asia and The Pacific



9.2. Slow Decline
Slow decline is a debilitating disease, where affected plants survive for a few years and death occurs Fig.52. A pepper plant affected with Slow gradually over a period of 3-4 Wilt disease in Sri Lanka years. The disease was earlier referred to as Slow Wilt in India and it is prevalent in Indonesia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka (Fig.52). It is also called Yellow Disease or Yellowing disease in Indonesia. Studies on the etiology have shown that the disease is caused by the damage of feeder roots by Phytophthora capsici, Radopholus similis and Meloidogyne incognita, either alone or in different combinations. There is no commercial pepper variety resistant to Slow Decline in India. Petaling-1 of Indonesia is reported to have some tolerance to this disease. Normally, a package consisting of cultural, biological and chemical control methods is adopted. Crop rotation, mulching with organic matter, application of soil amendments, phytosanitation, shade regulation and using nematode free planting materials are the important cultural practices recommended. Biological control measures depend on the application of Trichoderma sp. and Gliocladium virens. For the nursery, fumigation with Methyl bromide or Ethylene dibromide is a good treatment for the potting mixtures. For field application there are various nematicides, like Aldicarb, Phorate and Carbofuran that can be applied at the rate of 3 grams of Active Ingredient (A.I.) per plant, twice a year.


Anthracnose is called Pollu disease in India. Pollu is a Malayalam word meaning hollow berry. In Malaysia and Indonesia, it is known as Black Berry disease. The fungus, Colletotrichum necator causes the disease. The fungus infects both leaves and spikes. In certain years this disease causes considerable damage. If spikes are infected, younger berries become blackened. On mature Pepper Production Guide for Asia and The Pacific 79


berries, brownish lesions are formed. If infection occurs on the stem end of spike, they shed prematurely. Infection on leaves produces brown lesions. There is no pepper variety known to be resistant to this disease. Spraying Bordeaux 1% mixture during the rainy season will control the disease. A 0.2% Difolatan spray also gives adequate control.


Stunted Disease
Stunted Disease is also known as Little Leaf disease in India and Sri Lanka (Fig.53), and as Wrinkled Leaf Fig.53 . A pepper leaf affected with Little disease in Malaysia. In severely Leaf Disease in Sri Lanka affected plants leaves become narrow and leathery in texture with puckering and chlorotic streaks; internodes become shortened and branches appear like a Witches broom, and the leaves at times show narrowing and vein banding. In nurseries, chlorotic streaking of leaves and vein banding are common. Stunted disease is transmittable through planting materials, agricultural tools such as cutters or pruning knives and insect vectors. Many kinds of vectors have been reported, including Aphis gossypii and Diconocoris distanti in Sarawak, Planococcus minor, Ferrisia virgata and Toxoptera aurantii in Indonesia. There are two kinds of viruses that have been identified as causing the disease, namely the Cucumber Mosaic Virus (CMV) and Badna Virus. There is no pepper variety known to be resistant to this disease. The recommended measures are removal of infected plants and follow-up quarantine measures to prevent spread to new areas.


Symptoms of Phyllody are conversion of spikes and flowers to leaf like structures and enlargement of stalks. Leaves of affected plants become smaller and show chlorosis (Fig.54). Pepper Production Guide for Asia and The Pacific 80


Fig.54. Pepper plant affected by Phyllody in India In the affected plant, sometimes both normal and symptomatic spikes and berries are produced. The disease is reported to be caused by a Phytoplasma. The removal of affected plants and quarantine measures are suggested for disease management.

Source: Indian Institute of Spices Research, Kozhikode


Root Galls
Root Galls are formed on pepper due to infestation by the nematode, Meloidogyne sp. and causes some serious problems to pepper plants in Malaysia, during certain periods. Heavily infested plants show poor response to fertilizers and yields decline. The disease is particularly serious in Sarawak in Malaysia and Kalimantan and Bangka in Indonesia, where soils have a high sand content. The Uthirankotta variety is particularly susceptible. Application of nematicides, at a rate of 3 grams of Active Ingredient (A.I.) per plant, twice a year (Aldicarb, Phorate or Carbofuran are some common nematicides used) and organic manure reduces disease intensity.


Leaf Rot
Leaf Rot, a disease reported in Sri Lanka, is generally seen in the nursery when humidity is high. According to Sri Lankan experts, a few fungi such as Phytophthora palmivora, Pestalotia sp. and Collectotrichum sp. are associated Pepper Production Guide for Asia and The Pacific 81


with this disease. The general symptom is the appearance of water soaked lesions on the leaf (Fig.55). Sometimes, the lesions form concentric rings. In high humidity conditions, lesions may enlarge to cover more than half of the leaf, which will then fall off. This disease does not cause serious economic losses to pepper. To control leaf rot, avoid excessive shade (50% shade is sufficient), avoid surplus irrigation, use well drained potting mixtures made from top soil, sand, cattle manure and coir dust mixed in equal proportion. Bordeaux mixture (1%), or other copper fungicides may be sprayed when the disease occurs. Fig. 55. Pepper leaf affected with Leaf Rot in Sri Lanka


Bacterial Leaf Rot

This disease is caused by the bacteria, Xanthomonas campestris pv betlicola. It is found only in certain locations and in the vicinity of other Piper sp. The symptoms appear as small water soaked lesions on the leaf lamina and margin, which later become dark and become surrounded by a chlorotic halo. Later the leaf falls off. The use of Chloramphenicol at 200 ppm has been reported to be effective in inhibiting the growth of the bacteria in vitro. However, control measures to prevent the disease in the field are not available.


Thread Blight
This disease occurs on leaves and fruiting spikes. The fungus grows underneath the leaves and on the stem causing leaves and spikes to dry up. Pellicularia filamentosa (Corticium solani) is the causal organism. In Sri Lanka, it is reported that an alga, namely Ceflorus virusans, produces symptoms more or less similar to Thread Blight. Thread blight is not economically significant and many farmers do not take control measures. Control measures suggested are removal and burning of Pepper Production Guide for Asia and The Pacific 82


all infected plant parts and the application of Bordeaux mixture 1% or any copper fungicide, 2-3 times at intervals of 10 days during the rainy season.


Leaf Blight
Leaf blight is caused by Colletotrichum sp. and is characterized by the appearance of brownish lesions with a yellowish halo at the tip of the leaves. Lesions gradually enlarge to cover even half of affected leaves. The disease is common in pepper gardens where management is poor. Control measures include adopting proper management practices, such as providing enough shade during summer months, regulating shade during the rainy season, adopting soil moisture conservation practices and applying recommended doses of fertilizer, and when the disease occurs, spraying 1% Bordeaux mixture.

Pepper Production Guide for Asia and The Pacific