Despite the importance of leaf wetness duration for plant disease epidemiology, there has been little attention paid to research on how its variability relates to different cropping situations. The objective of this study was to evaluate the spatial variability of leaf wetness duration (LWD) in three crops, comparing these measurements with turfgrass LWD, obtained in a standard weather station. LWD was measured by electronic sensors in three crops with different canopy structures and leaf area: cotton, coffee and banana. For the cotton crop, cylindrical sensors were deployed at the lower third and on the top of the canopy, facing southwest. For the coffee crop, flat plate sensors were installed in the lower third of the canopy facing northeast and southwest; in the middle third facing northeast and southwest; and inside and on the top of the canopy. For the banana canopy, cylindrical sensors were used to measure LWD in the lower third of the canopy and in the upper third of the plant. Turfgrass LWD was simultaneously measured in a nearby standard weather station. The LWD showed different patterns of variation in the three crop canopies. For coffee plants, the longest LWD was found in the lower portions of the canopy; for the banana crop, the upper third of the canopy showed the longest LWD; whereas for the cotton crop no difference was observed between the top and lower third of the canopy. Turfgrass LWD presented a good relationship with LWD measured on the top or in the upper third of the crops. Thus, the estimate of crop LWD can be perfomed based on turfgrass LWD, this being a useful tool for plant disease management purposes for crops in which the longer LWD occurs at the upper canopy portion.
dew; microclimate; plant disease; warning systems