Date of this Version
Rhizoctonia solani causes crown rot of sugar beets, a severe disease that has destroyed up to 60% of the plants in a test field in western Nebraska. Laetisaria arvalis, a natural hyperparasite of Rhizoctonia spp., was isolated from fields in western Nebraska. To test for the potential for biological control of R. solani, in November 1980 (following harvest) we applied various combinations of a nematicide (Telone II; Dow Chemical Co.), a nutrition source (sugar beet pulp), and an inoculum of L. arvalis in a randomized block design. Populations of R. solani, L. arvalis, and sugar beets were monitored monthly through October 1981 (just after harvest). In control and nematicide plots, the R. solani population did not change significantly through time. In plots inoculated with L. arvalis, the R. solani populations declined through March, concomitant with an increase in L. arvalis. L. arvalis then declined with a corresponding increase in the R. solani populations. Beet plant numbers declined significantly in all treatments. We suggest that reduction of the R. solani populations with the hyperparasite L. arvalis is possible but that a stable equilibrium naturally exists.