Pokkah Boeng disease, caused by Fusarium spp., is an airborne fungal disease that causes significant economic losses and significantly impacts sugarcane cultivation. F. proliferatum, F. moniliforme, F. verticillioides, F. sacchari, and F. andiyazi are the most prevalent Fusarium species causing this disease. The disease reduces yield and quality by decreasing cane height, girth, internode length, and pol and sucrose percentages.
The yield losses range between 5 and 90%. Infecting host plants, Fusarium species produce macroconidia and microconidia, mycelia, and chlamydospores that serve as propagules. Resistance cultivars and chemical fungicides are recommended to control the disease, but they pose risks to human and animal health.
In controlling this disease, biocontrol microorganisms such as Trichoderma have proven effective. In addition, natural and organic disease control methods, such as neem oil, garlic, and copper, have shown promise in combating the disease. Detection and control of Pokkah Boeng disease at an early stage are essential for minimizing yield losses and maximizing sugarcane productivity.
Pokkah Boeng Management in Sugarcane
The Causal Organisms of Pokkah Boeng Disease
Several species of Fusarium, including Fusarium subglutinans, Fusarium sacchari, and Fusarium moniliforme Sheldon, are responsible for Pokkah Boeng disease in sugarcane. Infecting host plants, these fungal pathogens produce macroconidia and microconidia, mycelia, and chlamydospores as spores. They are parasitic, and some can produce mycotoxins on plants. Pokkah Boeng disease reduces cane height, girth, and internode length, resulting in significant yield losses.
The Disease Cycle of Pokkah Boeng Disease
Pokkah Boeng disease has an airborne disease cycle and is transmitted mainly through air currents, with secondary transmission occurring via infected setts, irrigation water, splashed rains, and soil. Airborne spores colonize plants’ leaves, blossoms, and stems through insect bites, borers, and natural growth cracks.
Typically, infection occurs through the spindle along the margin of a partially expanded leaf, resulting in leaf deformation and shortening. Spore spread is greater during the dry season, followed by the wet season, and the pathogen can persist in plant debris for up to 12 months under natural conditions.
Causes/Conditions Favorable for Pokkah Boeng Disease in the Field
Pokkah Boeng pathogens thrive in temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius and relative humidities between 70 and 80 percent, especially during cloudy weather and light rain. These favorable conditions facilitate the rapid spread and development of the disease in sugarcane plantations, resulting in considerable yield losses and decreased cane quality parameters.