How Bad Weather May Mean Good News For Your Crops

Congratulations to Winter Olympics Team USA. Our American athletes competed admirably, represented our nation well in Sochi, Russia, and frequently medaled despite stiff competition and challenges. One of the most critical challenges that athletes had to weather was, in fact, the weather.

For the Sochi Olympics, held in what is considered subtropical Russia, the weather was an all-important factor that dictated the feasibility and quality of the events. With daytime temperatures reaching the mid-60s, half-pipe snowboarders fought through bumpy, grainy ice and slope-style skiers sloshed through slushy snow. Thick mountain fog interfered with the snowboard cross race and prevented biathlon competitors from seeing targets. In many ways, weather was everything.

Rainless Production Period
When it comes to crop diseases in the Western U.S., weather is also everything in many ways. One of the most important weather factors is that much of the Western region is rainless during the main part of the growing season. For most of the region, rain falls only during the late autumn through early spring, providing the West with a long summer and early autumn run that is dry.

Lettuce Xantho 1_WR
Many diseases, such as bacterial leaf spot of lettuce, are favored by rain and high humidity weather conditions. Photo credit: Steve Koike.

Because a majority of fungal and bacterial pathogens are favored by splashing water and the wet conditions created by rain, lack of rain gives Western commodities an edge against plant diseases. Late blight of tomato and potato, Septoria and Cercospora blights of celery, Septoria blight of parsley, bacterial leaf spot of lettuce, and a host of other diseases tend to be less severe in this region because of lack of rain when crop production is at its peak. Compared to other parts of the country, Western growers likely apply fewer fungicide sprays because of this reduced disease pressure.

Low Humidity
Related to, but distinct from, rain is the overall relative humidity in a region. Parts of the Southeast and Eastern seaboard can have high overall levels of humidity, and this high humidity, coupled with warm temperatures, drives and encourages bacterial blights, bacterial soft rots, and other diseases that row crop farmers must battle.

In contrast, a great portion of the Western region has a relatively lower humidity level. Growers in the West are not exempt from seeing the same diseases; however, generally these problems are less severe, less aggressive, and therefore are more manageable.

Western Seed Production
This drier, rainless summer is a major reason why seed production is carried out in a number of western states. Pathogenic fungi and bacteria that are carried in and on seed are a significant threat to vegetable crop production.

Planting and growing vegetable seed crops in the drier climate contribute greatly to decreased incidence and concern with diseases caused by these pathogens. The resulting seed produced from this region is of high quality. Examples of a few seedborne diseases are: anthracnose, bacterial blight, and halo blight of bean; Alternaria diseases, bacterial leaf spot, and Cercospora leaf spot of carrot; Pseudomonas and Septoria blights of celery; Alternaria leaf spot, black leg, and black rot of crucifers; angular leaf spot, anthracnose, and bacterial fruit blotch of cucurbits; bacterial canker, speck, and spot of tomato.

The Long Run
Extremely long growing seasons also characterize production systems in the west. The weather and climate found in the region allow for production for most of the year. While Eastern and Mid-Western states are still shoveling snow, West Coast growers are going full throttle into the spring production season.

This feature of Western agriculture is particularly evident in California’s coastal region, where crops can be grown almost 12 months of the year. Since many of the coastal vegetable crops consist of short-cycle commodities such as leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, mustards, cilantro, parsley), broccoli, and cauliflower, any particular block of ground could be planted to as many as three to four different crops in a 12-month period.

Of course, bad weather strikes the West as well. Currently, “bad weather” for Californians means little rain, even during the winter. Lack of summer rain may be good for deterring plant diseases, but lack of rain for several years means that the Golden State is facing drought conditions that will limit and influence agricultural activities.

East or west, north or south, battling the weather remains the annual Olympian task for growers everywhere.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

Crop Protection Stories
CitrusBiocontrols 2015: Exhibition Sneak Preview
February 25, 2015
We take a look inside the exhibit hall at the Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow. Read More
CucurbitsGrafting Research Could Rescue Watermelon Crop In Washington
February 24, 2015
Researchers are looking to graft watermelon onto other vine plant rootstocks to help prevent Verticilium wilt. Read More
CitrusNew App Helps Identify Insects, Diseases, And Nutrient Deficiencies
February 24, 2015
Spensa Technologies launches app that helps growers take control of pests and improve soil nutrients. Read More
Apples & PearsGet Ready For Brown Marmorated Stink Bug In 2015
February 23, 2015
No one can predict the future of this relatively recent invader, which is now found in 41 states, but all signs point to continued expansion. Read More
Disease ControlDon’t Let Rust Eat Away At Your Sweet Corn Crop
February 20, 2015
Learn how to ID, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for southern rust of corn. Read More
CitrusCompanion Biological Fungicide Now OMRI Listed
February 19, 2015
The biological fungicide from Growth Products is now registered for use in organic production. Read More
Crop ProtectionFMC Launches Biological Fungicide With New Mode Of Action
February 18, 2015
The broad spectrum fungicide, Fracture, is labeled for prevention and control of powdery mildew, botrytis, and brown rot blossom blight. Read More
The Latest
Crop ProtectionSurvey Shows Growers Seek New Strategies To Control Thr…
March 4, 2015
Growers surveyed at the 2015 Southeast Regional Fruit And Vegetable Conference list thrips as major pest concern, and are looking for new technologies to combat pests. Read More
Apples & PearsNew Plant Growth Regulator Use Expanded
February 26, 2015
Ten more states grant registrations for Fine Americas’ new Kudos PGR. Read More
CitrusBiocontrols 2015: Exhibition Sneak Preview
February 25, 2015
We take a look inside the exhibit hall at the Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow. Read More
CitrusNew App Helps Identify Insects, Diseases, And Nutrient …
February 24, 2015
Spensa Technologies launches app that helps growers take control of pests and improve soil nutrients. Read More
CitrusCompanion Biological Fungicide Now OMRI Listed
February 19, 2015
The biological fungicide from Growth Products is now registered for use in organic production. Read More
Crop ProtectionFMC Launches Biological Fungicide With New Mode Of Acti…
February 18, 2015
The broad spectrum fungicide, Fracture, is labeled for prevention and control of powdery mildew, botrytis, and brown rot blossom blight. Read More
David Holden
CitrusBiopesticides, Biostimulants Show Results In Fruits And…
February 18, 2015
From biostimulants in celery and avocado to biopesticides in citrus and strawberries, consultant David Holden conducts in-the-field research that attests to the effectiveness of biocontrols. Read More
Crop ProtectionNew Conference Helps You Incorporate Biocontrols
February 10, 2015
How well do you know biocontrol? The first-ever Biocontrols Conference & Tradeshow is ready to help. Read More
Apples & PearsBiopesticide Use Quadrupled From 2000 To 2012
February 4, 2015
Biopesticides are on the up and up in U.S. agriculture as confirmed by recent data from EPA. “The use of Read More
fine americas website
CitrusFine Americas Launches New Website
February 3, 2015
First major redesign in 10 years reflects company’s focus on PGR technology. Read More
Apples & PearsA Better Understanding Of Biocontrol
January 27, 2015
The Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow will help growers and PCAs incorporate new tools into their crop protection programs. Read More
CitrusIncreased Global Trade Opportunity Equals New Threats F…
January 26, 2015
Despite expanding business abroad, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says he's confident in the protocols in place to prevent entry of invasive pests and disease. Read More
Apples & PearsSurvey: Positive Indicators For Biocontrols In U.S. Hor…
January 22, 2015
Preliminary results of a survey conducted in December 2014 of more than 850 readers across six Meister Media Worldwide titles Read More
CitrusAsian Citrus Psyllid Marches North In California Citrus…
January 22, 2015
Part of one of the richest agricultural areas in the U.S., Fresno County, has been quarantined. Read More
Apples & PearsReal-World Solutions Highlight First Biocontrols 2015 C…
January 22, 2015
Topping the inaugural event's marquee are presentations on “Driving Crop Quality and Productivity Using Biocontrols” by representatives from two of the largest produce growing organizations in the country. Read More
CitrusElevated Expectations For UAV Use In Agriculture
January 15, 2015
Uncertainties aside, many believe unmanned aircraft will find a lasting place in farming. Read More
BerriesCalifornia Strawberry Commission Awarded More than $1 M…
January 14, 2015
Strawberry farmers are dedicated to finding sustainable alternatives to fumigants such as methyl bromide. Read More
Crop ProtectionGowan USA Announces Registration Of Zing! Fungicide
January 14, 2015
The fungicide is approved for use in potato, tomato, cucurbits, and onions. Read More