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
Crop Protection
March 30, 2016
Bayer Nematicide Gets The Nod For Use On Potatoes
Velum Prime is a non-fumigant nematicide offering disease control benefits. Read More
potatoes
Potatoes
March 22, 2016
National Potato Promotion Board Updates its Name, Mission, Strategic Plan
The name is changed to Potatoes USA to help strengthen demand for U.S. spuds.   Read More
Potatoes
Marketing
March 22, 2016
Spring Potato Promotion Designed To Increase Retail Sales
Fresh Solutions Network’s potato product promotions are designed to inspire higher potato sales. Read More
Washington Capitol building
Farm Management
February 22, 2016
Industry Groups Praise Release Of Proposal To Create Federal Preemption For Food Labeling
The National Potato Council and the American Seed Trade Association applaud the proposal that would preempt state GMO food and seed labeling efforts and require USDA to set a standard for voluntary on-package disclosures. Read More
tomato field Gordon
Disease Control
February 16, 2016
Learn To Use Late Blight Tool For Potatoes And Tomatoes
Cornell workshop to highlight how tool uses temperature, relative humidity, rainfall information as well as the specific location of your farm. Read More
pile of potatoes
Potatoes
February 10, 2016
Potatoes Are More Than A Good Source Of Potassium
Researchers have been investigating the enhancement of oxidative qualities through breeding potato selections that are considerably higher in antioxidants than those currently available. Read More
The family at the helm of Sterman Masser Potato Farms includes (from left) David, Keith, Helen, and Julie.
Photo credit: Rosemary Gordon
Potatoes
February 7, 2016
A Lesson In Marketing From Sterman Masser Potato Farms
Always looking for new product offerings and ways to expand, Sterman Masser Potato Farms caters to consumers. Read More
The Latest
Potatoes
April 28, 2016
Potato Breeding Update From Cornell Univ…
Variety research includes incorporating resistance to Potato Virus Y, a new race of golden nematode, and improving appearance. Read More
Potatoes
April 10, 2016
New Leaders Elected For Potatoes USA
Formerly known as the U.S. Potato Board, Potatoes USA has elected Washington’s Mike Pink to the position of chairman. Read More
Farm Management
April 2, 2016
NPC To Offer Scholarship For Graduate St…
Selection is based on academic achievement, leadership ability, potato-related areas of graduate study, and extracurricular activities. Read More
Crop Protection
March 30, 2016
Bayer Nematicide Gets The Nod For Use On…
Velum Prime is a non-fumigant nematicide offering disease control benefits. Read More
Potatoes
March 22, 2016
National Potato Promotion Board Updates …
The name is changed to Potatoes USA to help strengthen demand for U.S. spuds.   Read More
Marketing
March 22, 2016
Spring Potato Promotion Designed To Incr…
Fresh Solutions Network’s potato product promotions are designed to inspire higher potato sales. Read More
Farm Management
February 22, 2016
Industry Groups Praise Release Of Propos…
The National Potato Council and the American Seed Trade Association applaud the proposal that would preempt state GMO food and seed labeling efforts and require USDA to set a standard for voluntary on-package disclosures. Read More
Disease Control
February 16, 2016
Learn To Use Late Blight Tool For Potato…
Cornell workshop to highlight how tool uses temperature, relative humidity, rainfall information as well as the specific location of your farm. Read More
Potatoes
February 10, 2016
Potatoes Are More Than A Good Source Of …
Researchers have been investigating the enhancement of oxidative qualities through breeding potato selections that are considerably higher in antioxidants than those currently available. Read More
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
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]