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
PotatoesCrop Transition Conference In The Twin Cities
June 2, 2015
Potato growers and industry leaders are invited to attend the 2015 Crop Transition Conference in Bloomington, MN, June 17-18. The Read More
PotatoesNational Potato Council Accepting Scholarship Applications
June 2, 2015
The National Potato Council (NPC) is accepting applications for a $10,000 graduate-level scholarship to be applied toward the 2015-2016 academic Read More
PotatoesGMO Potatoes: A Solution To Key Production Challenges? [Opinion]
May 31, 2015
The North American potato industry is a complex and wonderful entity. Like everything in the world of agriculture, this industry Read More
PotatoesAnother Genetically Engineered Potato To Be Evaluated
May 6, 2015
A petition from J.R. Simplot is seeking deregulation of a potato genetically engineered (GE) for late blight resistance, low acrylamide potential, reduced black spot bruising, and lowered reducing sugars. Read More
Phytophthora spore under a microscope
Disease ControlResearchers Find Silver Lining In Phytophthora Fight
May 5, 2015
A team of researchers from the University of Florida, University of Central Florida, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology Read More
PotatoesNorthwest Region Potato Stocks Hit 87.2 Million Hundredweight
April 29, 2015
Potato stocks in Idaho on April 1, 2015 totaled 50.0 million cwt., according to a USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Read More
PotatoesPotato Board’s Past Chairman Reflects On Year Of Service, Welcomes New Leader
April 8, 2015
New chairman was on the Potato Board’s International Marketing Committee and was a secretary/treasurer of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association.    Read More
The Latest
PotatoesBlack Gold Farms Kicks Off Red Potato Harvest In Southe…
June 26, 2015
American Vegetable Grower magazine’s Top 100 Grower Black Gold Farms kicked off fresh red potato harvest in Southeast Missouri this Read More
PotatoesPotato Field Day To Focus On Seed Lot Evaluations, Crop…
June 16, 2015
Attendees will be able to participate in one of two concurrent sessions. Read More
Potatoes2014 Fall Potato Harvest Estimated To Be Slightly Large…
June 15, 2015
According to a recent USDA report, potato harvest in 2014 is the second-highest production level noticed in the last decade. Read More
PotatoesCrop Transition Conference In The Twin Cities
June 2, 2015
Potato growers and industry leaders are invited to attend the 2015 Crop Transition Conference in Bloomington, MN, June 17-18. The Read More
PotatoesNational Potato Council Accepting Scholarship Applicati…
June 2, 2015
The National Potato Council (NPC) is accepting applications for a $10,000 graduate-level scholarship to be applied toward the 2015-2016 academic Read More
PotatoesGMO Potatoes: A Solution To Key Production Challenges? …
May 31, 2015
The North American potato industry is a complex and wonderful entity. Like everything in the world of agriculture, this industry Read More
PotatoesAnother Genetically Engineered Potato To Be Evaluated
May 6, 2015
A petition from J.R. Simplot is seeking deregulation of a potato genetically engineered (GE) for late blight resistance, low acrylamide potential, reduced black spot bruising, and lowered reducing sugars. Read More
Phytophthora spore under a microscope
Disease ControlResearchers Find Silver Lining In Phytophthora Fight
May 5, 2015
A team of researchers from the University of Florida, University of Central Florida, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology Read More
PotatoesNorthwest Region Potato Stocks Hit 87.2 Million Hundred…
April 29, 2015
Potato stocks in Idaho on April 1, 2015 totaled 50.0 million cwt., according to a USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Read More
PotatoesPotato Board’s Past Chairman Reflects On Year Of Servic…
April 8, 2015
New chairman was on the Potato Board’s International Marketing Committee and was a secretary/treasurer of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association.    Read More
PotatoesResearchers Find Gene That Defends Against Late Blight
April 7, 2015
Scientists say a protein in the gene will make the late blight pathogen less likely to overcome resistance. Read More
PotatoesNew Dual-Purpose Potato Variety Released
March 31, 2015
The russet-skinned variety from the University of Maine and the Maine Potato Board boasts high yields. Read More
gmo apple
Apples & PearsFDA Concludes GMO Crops Innate Potato And Arctic Apple …
March 20, 2015
The agency says the evaluated varieties are as safe and nutritious as conventional counterparts. Read More
PotatoesUSPB Promotes Potato Friendly Salad Bars
March 19, 2015
Initiative includes placing 3,000 potato-friendly salad bars in school lunch programs across the country. Read More
PotatoesResearch Says Consumers Will Pay More For Biotech Potat…
March 19, 2015
Study findings show the importance of educating the public on the science behind genetic modification. Read More
PotatoesAn Education On Potatoes [Opinion]
March 5, 2015
What is often a no-brainer for someone entrenched in the business of agriculture has to be explained — in detail — to some industry outsiders. Case in point: look at the rollercoaster ride potatoes have been on for several years. Read More
PotatoesPotato Grower Black Gold Farms Aquires George Wood Farm…
February 25, 2015
The transaction includes all production and packing operations.   Read More
PotatoesReport Recommends White Potatoes For WIC Purchase
February 4, 2015
The National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine has released a report recommending that USDA allow fresh, white potatoes to be an eligible vegetable for purchase using the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Cash Value Voucher. Read More