Pearl millet is potentially prone to diseases as such downy mildew caused by Sclerospora graminicola causing losses in grain yield. Crop improvement technologies such as seed priming and fertilizer micro-dosing have only been applied to improve crop production without assessing their implications in the diseases of crops. This study examines the effects of these technologies on downy mildew of pearl millet. An experiment was conducted for three years (2012, 2013 and 2014) cropping seasons at the University of Maiduguri teaching and research farm. The experiment consisted of four pearl millet varieties Ex-Borno, SOSAT-C88, LCIC 9702 and a local check. Each was subjected to four treatments viz: primed, micro-dosed, primed + micro dosed and untreated (control). These were laid out in split-plot design with three replications. The variety served as the main plot and the treatment served as the sub-plot. Seed priming resulted in significantly higher percentage of stand establishment, reduced downy mildew severity and increased yield. However, plants from micro-dosed seeds suffered lower stand establishment, higher downy mildew incidence and lower yield than in the control seeds. The efficiency of micro-dosing alone increased only when combined with seed priming. SOSAT-C88 had the highest plant stands, the lowest disease incidence and severity, and the highest yield. The interaction of seed treatment (priming and micro-dosing) × variety on yield of pearl millet showed seed priming alone was more effective on the landrace Ex-Borno, while micro-dosing alone was more effective on the improved cultivar SOSAT-C88. Combination of seed priming with micro-dosing gave the highest yield increase in cultivar LCIC 9702. Seed priming remains a potential option for farmers in the semi-arid region of Nigeria. But more studies are needed to determine the precise effect of fertilizer on downy mildew of pearl millet.
Key words: Downy mildew, severity, incidence, pearl millet, seed priming, micro-dosing.
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