BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Gardeners across Louisiana could see their nightshade vegetables and ornamentals succumbing to southern bacterial wilt.

Southern bacterial wilt, also known as bacterial wilt, is a destructive disease caused by a soil-borne bacterium called Ralstonia solanacearum, the LSU AgCenter said. The bacterium tunnels its way into plants through their wounds and causes a disease that eventually leaves them wilted, spotty, and limp. The disease can even cause a plant’s roots to rot and turn brown.

Bacterial wilt is an aggressive disease that gardeners do not want their crops to contend with. But how can they fight it?

Dr. Raj Singh of the LSU AgCenter said, “Managing southern bacterial wilt in soils previously infected with the bacterium presents a real challenge. There are no effective chemicals registered for commercial or home growers.”

Singh said prevention is the best defense. He added that this can be carried out via several methods, such as:

  • Soil fumigation- this option is only a temporary measure and should be leveraged early in the season.
  • Soil solarization- this nonchemical method for controlling the initial amount of bacterium in the soil makes use of the sun as a protection and balancing agent.
  • Don’t plant vulnerable crops in infested fields or on raised beds.
  • Consistently adhere to best practices when it comes to sanitation. This includes properly cleaning garden tools, avoiding movement of infested soils and the movement of stakes from such sites.