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
Potatoes
Potatoes
January 20, 2016
USDA Extends Deregulation Of Genetically Engineered Potato
J.R. Simplot Company submitted a request in May for extension of a determination of nonregulated status. Read More
Spud Nation Food Truck for web
Marketing
January 20, 2016
The United States Potato Board Launches New Marketing Program
The Spud Nation Food Trucks are part of the new marketing and education effort. Read More
Black scurf and stem canker on a batch of potatoes
Disease Control
December 16, 2015
Protect Potatoes From Black Scurf And Stem Canker
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for these fungal foes. Read More
Innate Russet Burbank potato (left) next to a conventional Russet Burbank potato (right) 30 minutes after peeling. Photo courtesy of J.R. Simplot Company
Potatoes
December 9, 2015
USDA Extends Deregulation Of Genetically Engineered Potato
Extension granted for a line of genetically engineered spuds developed by J.R. Simplot Company. Read More
pile of potatoes
Potatoes
December 2, 2015
Potato Growers Support Voluntary GMO Labeling
As the first session of the 114th Congress is drawing to an end, potato growers from Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Washington, Read More
Center pivot irrigation sprinklers in Florida
Irrigation
December 2, 2015
Researchers: New Irrigation Method Saves 50% Of Water Needed For Potato Production
Three-year study uncovers significant potential in hybrid center pivot equipment. Read More
The snow cover on these Vinifera vines is less than 1 foot deep, so very few buds are protected from the cold.
Photo: Duke Elsner
Farm Management
November 13, 2015
Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Application Deadlines Nearing
USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds producers who are interested in the 2016 Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), of Read More
The Latest
Potatoes
February 7, 2016
A Lesson In Marketing From Sterman Masse…
Always looking for new product offerings and ways to expand, Sterman Masser Potato Farms caters to consumers. Read More
Farm Management
January 26, 2016
Black Gold Farms Launches Red Potato Pro…
Red potato supplier unveils “Spice Up Your Spud Life” promotion to capitalize on American Heart Month. Read More
Potatoes
January 26, 2016
Potato Growers Select 2016 NPC Leadershi…
The National Potato Council names a new president as well as members of the Executive Committee. Read More
Potatoes
January 20, 2016
USDA Extends Deregulation Of Genetically…
J.R. Simplot Company submitted a request in May for extension of a determination of nonregulated status. Read More
Marketing
January 20, 2016
The United States Potato Board Launches …
The Spud Nation Food Trucks are part of the new marketing and education effort. Read More
Disease Control
December 16, 2015
Protect Potatoes From Black Scurf And St…
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for these fungal foes. Read More
Potatoes
December 9, 2015
USDA Extends Deregulation Of Genetically…
Extension granted for a line of genetically engineered spuds developed by J.R. Simplot Company. Read More
Potatoes
December 2, 2015
Potato Growers Support Voluntary GMO La…
As the first session of the 114th Congress is drawing to an end, potato growers from Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Washington, Read More
Irrigation
December 2, 2015
Researchers: New Irrigation Method Saves…
Three-year study uncovers significant potential in hybrid center pivot equipment. Read More
Farm Management
November 13, 2015
Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Appl…
USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds producers who are interested in the 2016 Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), of Read More
Farm Management
November 11, 2015
Potato Growers Support Trans-Pacific Par…
The partnership also includes provisions to improve the process for resolving phytosanitary issues based on science in a timely manner. Read More
Potatoes
October 28, 2015
The Importance Of Consistency And Predic…
One of the reasons Russet Burbank is still around while other varieties have gone by the wayside is that it is relatively consistent in its performance. Read More
Potatoes
October 27, 2015
RPE Launches New Potato Varieties
Wisconsin operation announces the addition of six new potato releases. Read More
Farm Management
September 30, 2015
Three Congressional Priorities For Potat…
The National Potato Council says to ask your Congressional representatives to support the potato industry on issues such as voluntary GMO labelding, truck weight reform, and funding for breeding research. Read More
Crop Protection
September 15, 2015
Syngenta’s Orondis Fungicide Receives EP…
The fungicide offers a new mode of action to control soil and foliar diseases caused by Oomycete fungi in vegetables and potatoes. Read More
Crop Protection
September 7, 2015
DuPont Receives EPA Approval For New Fun…
Zorvec is the first member of a new class of fungicides. Read More
Apples & Pears
September 1, 2015
Syngenta Receives EPA Registration For S…
The fungicide is available in four product offerings, pending state registrations. Read More
Potatoes
August 28, 2015
USDA Deregulates Late Blight-Resistant G…
Agency cites no significant impact of special spud developed by J.R. Simplot. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]