An Ounce Of Prevention…

Is worth a pound of cure. This old proverb, attributed to Ben Franklin, could have been taken directly from a modern plant pathology textbook. In today’s “business speak” we’d say, “It’s better to be proactive than reactive.” In either case, the lesson is clear: Anticipating a disease problem and taking action is far more effective than trying to manage the disease after it has become firmly established.

In the case of plant disease, prevention usually equals protection. The vast majority of our disease management tools — fungicides, in particular — work much more effectively when used as protectants. This means that the fungicide must be on the leaf or tuber surface before the plant is exposed to the pathogen. When used in the protectant role, fungicides prevent an infection from occurring in the first place by interfering with fungal spore germination and other early events in the infection process.

Protection is extremely important because, unfortunately, virtually all of our fungicides are ineffective on existing infections. After infection, the fungus becomes safely ensconced within the plant tissues where fungicide and fungus don’t come into contact. This is one reason why you can prevent but you cannot cure most fungal diseases.

Take Action

Another reason to be proactive is that many diseases have an “incubation period,” which is to say that there is a time period wherein the plant has been infected but is not showing any symptoms as yet. Incubation periods are measured in days for some diseases and may last for weeks or even years in others.

This delay in symptom expression presents a two-fold problem: one, the infection that is causing the symptoms you are currently seeing may have occurred more than a week ago; two, there could be a lot more infection sites on your plants that are in their latent period today and look perfectly healthy but, unfortunately, they’re not, and symptoms will be showing up later. In other words, the disease you see could be a lot more serious than it looks like at first glance. Application of a protectant during the incubation period could give you the impression that your protectant has failed. This brings up another point: Application of a protectant during the incubation period will not cure the disease either.

In most production areas, for diseases like late blight and early blight, we have forecasting systems that inform growers when weather conditions have been favorable for these diseases to develop and that fungicide applications are recommended. The idea here is, once again, protection —  to get the crop protected before the diseases have a chance to really get started. For diseases like white mold, a protectant application may be tied to some stage of plant growth, like flower drop, for instance. Still other diseases, like Rhizoctonia, require that the protectant be applied to the seed piece or in the furrow, long before the potatoes even begin to grow.

As you can see, for each of these diseases, the best management plan is to apply a protectant fungicide before the disease occurs. The use of a forecasting system, when such a system is available, can mean that a fungicide will not be applied until it is needed and that you might be able to get good disease management with fewer applications in some production seasons. But here’s the take home lesson: For plant diseases, an ounce of prevention is worth way more than a pound of cure because, most of the time, there ain’t no cure!

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Potatoes Stories
sclerotinia
Disease Control
February 23, 2017
Spot Sclerotinia Before It Stops Your Vegetable Crop
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this malady that goes by many names. Read More
Florida potato field in bloom.
Citrus
February 22, 2017
New Insecticide Available to Combat Sucking, Chewing Pests
Minecto Pro from Syngenta has received EPA approval for use in specialty and vegetable crops to control lepidopteran and other pests. Read More
Late blight shown in a tomato
Disease Control
January 19, 2017
Clues Found to Block Late Blight’s Blitz on Potatoes, Tomatoes
With food security at stake, breakthrough in genetic research could help prevent more strains of the deadly pathogen from entering the U.S. Read More
Potatoes
January 12, 2017
NPC’s 2016 Environmental Stewardship Award Goes to Vista Valley Ag
The farm plants a rotation of potatoes, barley, wheat, and alfalfa to reduce pest pressure and uses IPM techniques throughout the farming operation. Read More
Potatoes
January 11, 2017
Potato Growers Select NPC Leadership for 2017
Dwayne Weyers of Aspen Produce in Colorado was chosen as the next president of the National Potato Council. Read More
potato field
Crop Protection
January 4, 2017
New Potato Insecticide/Fungicide Seed Treatment Available
Syngenta’s CruiserMaxx Vibrance receives EPA registration. Read More
Dickeya chrysanthemi of potato
Disease Control
December 21, 2016
Two Tips to Improve Your Potato Seed Stock
High-quality seed stock with a guaranteed low incidence of disease is the first step to success. Read More
Cucurbits
December 20, 2016
3 New Fungicide Product Options for Vegetable Growers
Unique modes of action the main feature of modern chemistries. Read More
Potatoes
November 29, 2016
Potato Expo Speakers To Motivate And Enlighten
Slated for Jan. 4-6, the expo includes 46 networking hours for growers. Read More
potato field
Crop Protection
November 21, 2016
Syngenta Announces New Fungicide Product Line
The Miravis brand contains a new active ingredient that is currently pending EPA approval. Read More
Potatoes
November 21, 2016
United Potato Growers of America Names Mark Klompien CEO
Klompien replaces the retiring Jerry Wright. Read More
Alan Jones standing in a potato field
Nutrient Management
November 16, 2016
Protecting Agriculture’s Future A Win-Win For Florida Farmer
Making good use of data and a focus on efficiency are critical in sustainable agricultural operations. Read More
Fruits
November 15, 2016
Bacteria May Help Control Lesion Nematodes
A bacteria found in roundworms could be a future control of a root-hungry pest in raspberries and potatoes. Read More
pile of potatoes
Potatoes
November 7, 2016
The Skinny On Potato Skin
The skins of all varieties are edible, but appearance and periderm health both play an important role in whether people will want to eat them or not. Read More
Grower Achievement Award
October 31, 2016
The 2016 Grower Achievement Award Winner Looks For The Next Great Potato Variety
Bob Bender of Tasteful Selections, the 2016 Grower Achievement Award recipient, will continue to work on great-tasting potato varieties and offering consumers convenience. Read More
The Latest
Berries
March 25, 2017
Florida Blueberry Crop Escapes Slap from…
Freeze protection tactics prove fruitful as local producers look to gain from Georgia’s loss. Read More
Potatoes
March 8, 2017
3 GMO, Late-Blight-Resistant Potato Vari…
The introduced genetic material is from wild potato varieties that are resistant to late blight. Read More
Farm Management
February 28, 2017
Key Cabinet Picks Likely Good News for G…
National Potato Council's John Keeling weighs in on how President Trump's picks for to head up EPA and Department of Agriculture will impact vegetable growers. Read More
Disease Control
February 23, 2017
Spot Sclerotinia Before It Stops Your Ve…
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this malady that goes by many names. Read More
Citrus
February 22, 2017
New Insecticide Available to Combat Suck…
Minecto Pro from Syngenta has received EPA approval for use in specialty and vegetable crops to control lepidopteran and other pests. Read More
Disease Control
January 19, 2017
Clues Found to Block Late Blight’s…
With food security at stake, breakthrough in genetic research could help prevent more strains of the deadly pathogen from entering the U.S. Read More
Potatoes
January 12, 2017
NPC’s 2016 Environmental Stewardship Awa…
The farm plants a rotation of potatoes, barley, wheat, and alfalfa to reduce pest pressure and uses IPM techniques throughout the farming operation. Read More
Potatoes
January 11, 2017
Potato Growers Select NPC Leadership for…
Dwayne Weyers of Aspen Produce in Colorado was chosen as the next president of the National Potato Council. Read More
Crop Protection
January 4, 2017
New Potato Insecticide/Fungicide Seed Tr…
Syngenta’s CruiserMaxx Vibrance receives EPA registration. Read More
Disease Control
December 21, 2016
Two Tips to Improve Your Potato Seed Sto…
High-quality seed stock with a guaranteed low incidence of disease is the first step to success. Read More
Cucurbits
December 20, 2016
3 New Fungicide Product Options for Vege…
Unique modes of action the main feature of modern chemistries. Read More
Potatoes
November 29, 2016
Potato Expo Speakers To Motivate And Enl…
Slated for Jan. 4-6, the expo includes 46 networking hours for growers. Read More
Crop Protection
November 21, 2016
Syngenta Announces New Fungicide Product…
The Miravis brand contains a new active ingredient that is currently pending EPA approval. Read More
Potatoes
November 21, 2016
United Potato Growers of America Names M…
Klompien replaces the retiring Jerry Wright. Read More
Nutrient Management
November 16, 2016
Protecting Agriculture’s Future A …
Making good use of data and a focus on efficiency are critical in sustainable agricultural operations. Read More
Fruits
November 15, 2016
Bacteria May Help Control Lesion Nematod…
A bacteria found in roundworms could be a future control of a root-hungry pest in raspberries and potatoes. Read More
Potatoes
November 7, 2016
The Skinny On Potato Skin
The skins of all varieties are edible, but appearance and periderm health both play an important role in whether people will want to eat them or not. Read More
Grower Achievement Award
October 31, 2016
The 2016 Grower Achievement Award Winner…
Bob Bender of Tasteful Selections, the 2016 Grower Achievement Award recipient, will continue to work on great-tasting potato varieties and offering consumers convenience. Read More