Site-specific risk factors for ray blight in Tasmanian pyrethrum fields

Sarah J. Pethybridge, David H. Gent, Paul D. Esker, William W. Turechek, Frank S. Hay, Forrest W. Nutter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Ray blight of pyrethrum (Tanacetum cinerariifolium), caused by Phoma ligulicola var. inoxydablis, can cause defoliation and reductions of crop growth and pyrethrin yield. Logistic regression was used to model relationships among edaphic factors and interpolated weather variables associated with severe disease outbreaks (i.e., defoliation severity ≥40%). A model for September defoliation severity included a variable for the product of number of days with rain of at least 0.1 mm and a moving average of maximum temperatures in the last 14 days, which correctly classified (accuracy) the disease severity class for 64.8% of data sets. The percentage of data sets where disease severity was correctly classified as at least 40% defoliation severity (sensitivity) or below 40% defoliation severity (specificity) were 55.8 and 71%, respectively. A model for October defoliation severity included the number of days with at least 1 mm of rain in the past 14 days, stem height in September, and the product of the number of days with at least 10 mm of rain in the last 30 days and September defoliation severity. Accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity were 72.6, 73.6, and 71.4%, respectively. Youden's index identified predictive thresholds of 0.25 and 0.57 for the September and October models, respectively. When economic considerations of the costs of false positive and false negative decisions and disease prevalence were integrated into receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves for the October model, the optimal predictive threshold to minimize average management costs was 0 for values of disease prevalence greater than 0.2 due to the high cost of false negative predictions. ROC curve analysis indicated that management of the disease should be routine when disease prevalence is greater than 0.2. The models developed in this research are the first steps toward identifying and weighting site and weather disease risk variables to develop a decision-support aid for the management of ray blight of pyrethrum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-237
Number of pages9
JournalPlant disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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