Weather Conducive for a Host of Lima Diseases

Bob Mulrooney, Extension Plant Pathologist;

The recent heavy rainfall from the storms has been very favorable for development of downy mildew. Lima bean fields should be scouted carefully now for the presence of downy mildew as well as white mold. The weather has also raised the possibility of seeing gray mold (Botrytis). Race F of Phythophthora phaseoli was the only race of downy mildew identified in 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2010. Preventative applications of 2 lbs. fixed copper, 2 lbs. Ridomil Gold/Copper, or 3- 4 pts. Prophyte have provided control of downy mildew in the past. The newest formulation of fixed copper from DuPont is Kocide 3000 and it performs as well as the other formulations of copper at the rate of 1.3 lbs/A. The best controls continue to be Ridomil/Gold Copper, Prophyt, or other labeled phosphonate fungicides and Omega, especially when disease pressure is high. Application at flowering or when pods are first forming is recommended if weather is favorable for disease. If disease is present Ridomil/Gold Copper and phosphonate fungicides have shown to provide some curative activity if applied when downy mildew is first seen. If downy is present in the field do not use copper fungicides alone for curative control, they will not provide control. Another product that is labeled on lima beans for white mold control is Omega but not downy mildew, but in DE this would be a 2ee use that someone like me can recommend since the fungicide is labeled on lima beans. I have three years data that show excellent control of downy mildew at 5.5 fl oz and 8.0 fl oz/A as a preventative application (before disease is found in the field). Omega is not labeled for aerial application, however. Headline from BASF is also labeled for downy mildew. I have tested it and it has provided good control of downy when applied on a 10 day schedule at 6.0 fl oz. /A. It does not give as good disease control as Ridomil Gold/Copper or the phosphonates preventatively but the yields have been comparable. It is also labeled for anthracnose which the other products do not control. See the 2011 DE Commercial Vegetable Production Recommendations for more information on fungicides for lima beans.

Downy mildew caused by Phytophthora phaseoli

Downy mildew on raceme and petiole

 Phytophthora capsici on lima bean pod.

Phytophthora capsici will infect lima bean pods as well and can look very similar. P. capsici or lima bean pod rot is usually found in wet low spots in the field. The fungus growth looks more granulated or “pebbly” than downy mildew, microscopic confirmation is encouraged.


Downy mildew on the upper pod and lima bean pod rot on the lower pod. Note the granular appearance of the fungus on the lower pod and the lack of a reddish brown border on the pod infected with lima bean pod rot or Phytophthora capsici.