From FCC Epress, by Owen Roberts
Significant rainfall in Ontario over the past few weeks has agriculture officials watching the skies and urging specialty crop farmers to scout for disease.
Sean Westerveld, ginseng and medicinal herbs specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Ministry of Rural Affairs, says diseases caused by water moulds such as downy mildew and Phytophthora are particularly troublesome.
“With the wet conditions experienced across most of southern Ontario over the past few weeks, the risk of both foliar and root diseases is high on many specialty crops,” Westerveld says.
Hops downy mildew and cucurbit downy mildew have been reported in Ontario and are spreading. Concerns are also being raised about basil downy mildew, which is creeping north up the eastern seaboard of the United States.
Other diseases promoted by wet conditions and high humidity include leaf spots and blights such as alternaria and septoria, powdery mildew, various crown and root rots, as well as bacterial diseases.
On the bright side, however, there have been no reports of late blight in Ontario in either tomatoes or potatoes so far. And after a heavy downpour at the end of last week, rainfall has subsided.
Nonetheless, Westerveld says with these diseases, scouting and preventative pest-control product application is key for control. If products are available, he urges growers to try protecting their crops from these diseases before symptoms first appear.
“Continue rotating available options until weather conditions become less conducive to disease,” he says. “Once the diseases become widespread in a field they can be very difficult to control.”
Farmers who suspect they have one of these diseases in their fields are asked to contact the ministry.