May 5, 2021Summer Sanitation Is Important as Ever
To contact John Palumbo go to: jpalumbo@ag.Arizona.edu
Last year we had a lot of watermelon fields infected with Fusarium from Winterhaven to Yuma, Wellton, and Mohawk Valley. Rain, and overwatering of fields when plants set fruits might have contributed to the disease development.
Fusarium wilt of watermelon, caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum, is one of the oldest described Fusarium wilt diseases and the most economically important disease of watermelon worldwide. It occurs on every continent except Antarctica and new races of the pathogen continue to impact production in many areas around the world. Long-term survival of the pathogen in the soil and the evolution of new races make management of Fusarium wilt difficult.
Symptoms of Fusarium can sometimes be confused with water deficiency, even though there is plenty of water in the field. In Yuma valley we have seen fusarium problem in some overwatered fields.
Initial symptoms often include a dull, gray green appearance of leaves that precedes a loss of turgor pressure and wilting. Wilting is followed by a yellowing of the leaves and finally necrosis. The wilting generally starts with the older leaves and progresses to the younger foliage. Under conditions of high inoculum density or a very susceptible host, the entire plant may wilt and die within a short time. Affected plants that do not die are often stunted and have considerably reduced yields. Under high inoculum pressure, seedlings may damp off as they emerge from the soil.
Initial infection of seedlings usually occurs from chlamydospores (resting structure) that have overwintered in the soil. Chlamydospores germinate and produce infection hyphae that penetrate the root cortex, often where the lateral roots emerge. Infection may be enhanced by wounds or damage to the roots. The fungus colonizes the root cortex and soon invades the xylem tissue, where it produces more mycelia and microconidia. Consequently, the fungus becomes systemic and often can be isolated from tissue well away from the roots. The vascular damage we see in the roots is the defense mechanism of the plant to impede the movement of pathogen.
Disease management include planting clean seeds/transplants, use of resistant cultivars, crop rotation, soil fumigation, soil solarization, grafting, biological control. An integrated approach utilizing two or more methods is required for successful disease management.
Earlier this week, we initiated a trial examining the use of band steam for controlling Fusarium wilt of lettuce. The premise behind this research is to use steam heat to raise soil temperatures to levels sufficient to kill soilborne pathogens. For Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lactucae, the pathogen which causes Fusarium wilt of lettuce, the required temperature for control is generally taken to be > 140°F for 20 minutes. Soil solarization, where clear plastic is placed over the crop bed during the summer, exploits this concept. The technique raises soil surface temperatures to 150-155˚F, effectively killing the pathogen and reducing disease incidence by 45-98% (Matheron and Porchas, 2010).
In our trials, we are using steam heat to raise soil temperatures. Steam is delivered by a 35 BHP steam generator mounted on a custom designed elongated bed shaper (Fig. 1). Preliminary results were encouraging. The device was able to increase the temperature of the top 3” of soil to over 180°F at a travel speed of 0.5 mph as shown in this video of the machine in action (shown below). These temperatures exceed that of those known to control pathogens responsible for causing Fusarium wilt of lettuce (> 140°F for 20 minutes).
Stay tuned for final trial results and reports on the efficacy of using steam heat to control Fusarium wilt of lettuce.
If you are interested in evaluating the technique on your farm, please contact me. We are seeking additional sites with a known history of Fusarium wilt of lettuce disease incidence to test the efficacy and performance of the device.
Matheron, M. E., & Porchas, M. 2010. Evaluation of soil solarization and flooding as management tools for Fusarium wilt of lettuce. Plant Dis. 94:1323-1328.
This project is sponsored by USDA-NIFA, the Arizona Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and the Arizona Iceberg Lettuce Research Council. We greatly appreciate their support.
A special thank you is extended to Cory Mellon and Mellon Farms for allowing us to conduct this research on their farm.
The Yuma County Leaf Wetness Network remains in place for the 2018/19 vegetable season. Growers and PCAs may access information generated by the network by entering the following internet address: http://18.104.22.168:460
Upon entering the address above, you will be transferred to internet page that provides a series of tabs at the top of the page. Simply click on the tabs to access the information of interest.
VegIPM Update, Vol. 11, No. 7, Apr 1, 2020
Corn earworm: Moth activity decreased during the past 2 weeks and is comparable to what we’ve seen in the past 5 years at the end of the produce season.
Beet armyworm: Moths remain active, and about average for the end of the season.
Cabbage looper: Cabbage looper moths declined in most trap locations over the past 2 weeks. Below average activity for the end of the season.
Whitefly Adult movement at seasonal lows and relatively absent; typical for this time of the season.
Thrips Thrips activity has increased in most trap locations, but still below average for this time of the season.
Aphids: Adults beginning to disperse again; above average abundance for this time of the year.
Leafminers Adult activity increased significantly in Yuma and Gila Valleys; about average for end of the season.
DBM adult captures decreased slightly in most trap locations as crops begin to terminate. The exception is in Bard/Winterhaven where trap catches increased significantly near seed crops. Trap catches overall have been stable during March, but higher than the previous two seasons.
Area-wide Diamondback Moth Trapping Network
In response to the recent outbreaks of Diamondback moth (DBM), Plutella xylostella in Yuma, we have established a pheromone trap network designed to monitor the activity and movement of adult populations of DBM. PCAs have had difficulty controlling DBM in cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower since October 2016. Traps have been placed in Roll, Wellton, Dome Valley, Gila Valley and Yuma Valley in locations where cole crops are presently being grown or in areas where infestations were known to occur in the fall.