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
researcher, scientist
Potatoes
July 8, 2016
National Potato Council Talks About Public Policy Decisions And The Influence Of Dangerous Data 
Over the past year, a series of actions by EPA have shown an agencywide outlook that does not rely on Read More
potato field
Crop Protection
July 8, 2016
Public Policy Decisions And The Influence Of Dangerous Data [Opinion]
EPA needs to get back to using solid science and avoid bending to popular opinion. Read More
Florida potato field in bloom.
Potatoes
June 7, 2016
Nominations Open for 2017 Potatoes USA Board Members
 Sixty members will be elected or re-elected to fill open seats and the seats of outgoing Board Members who are completing their second three-year term in March 2017. Read More
potato late blight leaves
Crop Protection
May 31, 2016
A Preventive Approach Reduces Infection Risk In Potatoes
Conditions favoring disease development and spread have led to the establishment of early warning or forecast programs for late blight and early blight. Read More
Potatoes
Potatoes
May 6, 2016
National Potato Council Summer Meeting Slated For July
The summer meeting is open to growers and industry leaders interested in advancing the potato industry’s most pressing policy debates. Read More
potato field_featured
Crop Protection
May 6, 2016
Late Blight Hotlines For Potato Growers Up And Running For 2016 
Offering management information for five key potato-growing regions, the hotlines provide data on weather threats, disease pressures, and scouting. Read More
Two chipping varieties Cornell released in the last few years that have shown promise are ‘Lamoka’ and ‘Waneta.’ 
“They both have outstanding chip color when fried out of the cold, which is a trait that’s important in the industry,” Cornell's Walter De Jong says.
Photo courtesy of Walter De Jong
Potatoes
April 28, 2016
Potato Breeding Update From Cornell University
Variety research includes incorporating resistance to Potato Virus Y, a new race of golden nematode, and improving appearance. Read More
The Latest
Potatoes
July 27, 2016
Hail Hammers Potato Crops In North Dakot…
Storms have wreaked havoc on crops in the Peace Garden State. Read More
Crop Protection
July 18, 2016
Potato Growers: Be On The Lookout For Ne…
Standard measures have been typically less effective against new strains. Read More
Crop Protection
July 13, 2016
Dickeya: A New Potato Disease
The disease caused big losses last year; growers need to check fields for symptoms. Read More
Potatoes
July 8, 2016
National Potato Council Talks About Publ…
Over the past year, a series of actions by EPA have shown an agencywide outlook that does not rely on Read More
Crop Protection
July 8, 2016
Public Policy Decisions And The Influenc…
EPA needs to get back to using solid science and avoid bending to popular opinion. Read More
Potatoes
June 7, 2016
Nominations Open for 2017 Potatoes USA B…
 Sixty members will be elected or re-elected to fill open seats and the seats of outgoing Board Members who are completing their second three-year term in March 2017. Read More
Crop Protection
May 31, 2016
A Preventive Approach Reduces Infection …
Conditions favoring disease development and spread have led to the establishment of early warning or forecast programs for late blight and early blight. Read More
Potatoes
May 6, 2016
National Potato Council Summer Meeting S…
The summer meeting is open to growers and industry leaders interested in advancing the potato industry’s most pressing policy debates. Read More
Crop Protection
May 6, 2016
Late Blight Hotlines For Potato Growers …
Offering management information for five key potato-growing regions, the hotlines provide data on weather threats, disease pressures, and scouting. Read More
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
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]