The Launch of My 2011 Fungicide Efficacy Experiment

Today I had a moment in which I exclaimed: I love what I do! It occurred this afternoon as I worked at Rock Springs, launching an experiment.

My fungicide efficacy experiment is a replication of a study I did last year. I’m conducting it in a fenced-in area at Rock Springs. While the plants are facing certain death–and might be inclined to escape if they caught wind of their future–the fence is not to prevent them from running, rather it is to prevent deer from eating my experimental units (which would cause me considerable grief). I always attach the bungee cord and chain on the gate in a very specific manner, which lets me know if anyone has been inside the fence since I’ve been there.

This experiment is being conducted behind closed doors.

Before today I had planted all the firs, and yesterday I applied the first round of fungicide treatments. Today I was armed with rice. Deadly, deadly rice.

The firs see this and tremble (Phytophthora cactorum on rice in this case).

After a few hours of parsing out rice in 1/8 teaspoon servings I fixed my broken irrigation lines (for the fourth time this year already) and collected my first data readings (every plant is healthy . . . that won’t last).

Inoculated plants.

Every time I work with rice that I have cultured Phytophthora on I am struck by how good it smells. I’d like to figure out what is producing the scent. Is it something from the carb breakdown? At some point I might look into this, for if it is edible it could be awesome. I am extremely paranoid about eating fungal or fungal-like things of unknown toxicity (I love cooking with mushrooms but I never collect my own because I couldn’t enjoy eating them while I wondered if my liver was failing). So I’m not about to try this tempting rice without solid evidence that it is safe. Boring? Maybe. But alive.

Now my experiment is up and running and my living room is no longer full of beakers of rice. It was a good day.



Filed under Horticulture

2 responses to “The Launch of My 2011 Fungicide Efficacy Experiment

  1. Anonymous

    Hi Benjamin,
    I am interested in how you produce Phytophthora on rice and how you infect your plants in the experiment. Can you give me some information or some references that I can check?

    • I’m traveling right now, and I’m not in work mode, but I can give you a quick overview. I autoclaved rice twice in a beaker, then added small agar plugs colonized with the phytophthora, then shook that daily for a bout two weeks until the rice grains were colonized. I then applied a fixed amount (maybe 5g?per inoculated plant, pushed into the soil/media surface. I had great results with it.

      The method is based on an article in Plant Disease by Holmes and Benson in February, 1994.


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