The first step in the formulation of disease management strategy for any cropping system is to identify the most important risk factors. This is facilitated by basic epidemiological studies of pathogen life cycles, and an understanding of the way in which weather and cropping factors affect the quantity of initial inoculum and the rate at which the epidemic develops. Weather conditions are important factors in the development of fungal diseases in winter wheat, and constitute the main inputs of the decision support systems used to forecast disease and thus determine the timing for efficacious fungicide application. Crop protection often relies on preventive fungicide applications. Considering the slim cost−revenue ratio for winter wheat and the negative environmental impacts of fungicide overuse, necessity for applying only sprays that are critical for disease control becomes paramount for a sustainable and environmentally friendly crop production. Thus, fungicides should only be applied at critical stages for disease development, and only after the pathogen has been correctly identified. This chapter provides an overview of different weather-based disease models developed for assessing the real-time risk of epidemic development of the major fungal diseases (Septoria leaf blotch, leaf rusts and Fusarium head blight) of winter wheat in Luxembourg.
Part of the book: Advances in Plant Pathology