Plant Diseases

There are some simple practices which may help prevent diseases from occurring.

As it is with humans, plants can get sick too.

Illness breeds illness. Plant diseases can make plants more susceptible to disease. Moreover, it can also make plants more prone to pests. Ironically enough, many diseases are transmitted by pests to begin with.

Diseases in plants are typically bacterial or fungal. Thus, their controls are either bactericides or fungicides. And there are many pesticides available out there, all capable of controlling a specific disease and list thereof. Not all are safe to biocontrols, though, which is the reason this section was thought of in the first place. In the section which follows, there are many products which are the safest to use. If it’s not the actual compound that’s safe, then it is when the product is applied which makes it so.

As with biological pest controls, prevention is the answer to ultimate disease control: stop it from happening and you won’t have to deal with the consequences. Most of the “safe” products shown in the next section work best as preventive medicine for plants; though some work in both capacities (as curatives too).

Let’s back up a moment before we become nozzle-heads. There are some simple practices which may help prevent diseases from occurring — even without the preventive dusts and sprays:

Plant spacing is very important. The greater the distance between plants, the less likely that spores and such will pass from one plant to the other. Moreover, gaps will increase air circulation and light to surface areas. This will keep plants dryer. As is the case with more diseases, requirements for optimum manifestation will include darkness, heat and, especially moisture or high humidity.

Insect pests are probably the number one cause of disease spread among plants. Good insect control is really the key to preventing many disease problems. Insect screens are a terrific idea when considering pest control from the disease standpoint; screens provide maximum separation between the disease and plant.

Scouting your plants will usually provide early insight to disease manifestation. Finding disease symptoms on one plant — and removing that plant — can really save the day. Remember to wash your hands and the general area of the infected plant immediately after disposal. This is very important because…

Sanitation is fundamental. Like some pests, we can transmit plant diseases, too. Entire greenhouse sanitation procedures can be of immense value to growers. Clean up now, avoid headaches later. This may also include the sanitation or sterilization of your preferred media. Many plant pathogens get their start in tainted media. Nowadays, though, you can often add living organisms to the soil which will do the dirty work for you — naturally, without sometimes costly sterilization procedures.

Outdoor crops should be rotated often. As many growers know, you don’t want to plant cole crops in areas where another cole crop had been grown within the past three years. Like plants can sometimes increase the likelihood of problems associated to that particular family or variety.

Get more information. There are books available with will help you identify, prevent, and correct disease problems. A good place to start is with your local cooperative extension office; they may be familiar with the common plant diseases which tend to be problematic in your given area.

Scout. Yeah, we’re back to that again. Just can’t stress enough its importance.