The 2010 tobacco growing season is nearing an end and farmers need to begin preparing now to manage diseases in the 2011 crop. There’s no way to tell what disease pressures growers will face in the coming growing season. Much depends on the climate when dealing with diseases like blue mold and target spot. However, some problems will show up again and again once certain diseases become established in a transplant system or the field.
It is important to think about managing diseases like Pythium root rot, target spot, black shank and Fusarium wilt now and not wait until the upcoming production season. A critical step is to institute good sanitary practices on the farm. Many diseases seen in the float system and field survive between crops on equipment and plant residues.
Greenhouses and outdoor float beds should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized in the fall to reduce overwintering populations of pathogens. Plant debris and trash should be buried or burned. Styrofoam trays should be carefully cleaned, sanitized as recommended (or destroyed), and properly stored before winter sets in.