White thread blight disease (WTBD) is currently emerging as an important foliar disease on cocoa in Ghana. The disease has been known in the country for many years. Yet, the incidence and severity levels on cocoa in the growing regions are not known. Surveys and sampling were conducted between 2011 and 2013 to estimate incidence and severity of WTBD in the six cocoa growing regions (Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Central, Eastern, Western and Volta) of Ghana. Diseased samples were assayed for the infecting fungus and its identification. Chi square tests were used to find relationships between age, sanitation practice and the disease severity. Effectiveness of chemical and cultural control methods against the disease were tested. The disease was found in all the cocoa growing regions of Ghana and out of 24,000 trees inspected, 1,281 (5.3%) were infected. The majority of infected trees (74.2%) were moderately affected but 3.2% of the trees were very severely affected and almost dead. A positive correlation (r = 0.889) was found between WTBD incidence and the severity. The most severely affected regions were Ashanti (13.8%), Brong-Ahafo (10.2%) and Western (7.6%) regions. Poor maintenance significantly (p=0.0001) increased the levels of disease occurrence and severity. Older cocoa trees also appeared more susceptible than younger ones. Pruning of affected branches controlled the disease better than fungicides spray. However, Nordox (75% copper (I) oxide) at 5 g/l and Metalm (12% metalaxyl and (60% copper (I) oxide) at 3.3 g/l fungicides were effective in reducing mycelial growth of the Marasmiellus fungus. Therefore, fungicide should be used in situations of severe infection to supplement pruning.
Key words: Thread blight, cocoa, Marasmiellus, disease severity.
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