A system to map the risk of infection by Puccinia kuehnii in Brazil

ABSTRACT. Orange rust caused by the fungus Puccinia kuehnii greatly affects sugarcane and causes millions of tons of losses in production. This condition was first reported in Brazil at the end of 2009. The disease is currently present in most of the countries that produce this crop. The aim of this research was to develop risk maps of P. kuehnii infection using temperature and relative humidity data, provided by 389 automatic weather stations throughout the country. A spatial distribution analysis was carried out to assess the number of daily hours of favorable conditions for spore germination in each region. In the central-south region, where the main sugarcane producing states are concentrated, two distinct periods were observed during the three years studied. Higher favorability occurred from October to April, and lower favorability occurred from May to September. The opposite relation was observed on the coast of the north-eastern region, where conditions were more favorable to the disease from May to September. The validation data were confirmed by the results of Pearson’s correlation between sugarcane orange rust infection under field conditions and the proposed maps. In conclusion, risk maps obtained using data from automatic weather stations could contribute to the monitoring of the risk of infection by sugarcane orange rust.