LSU AgCenter Plant Doctor warning about ‘the plant destroyer’

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LSU AG CENTER: "The name originates from the Greek words phytón, meaning plant, and phthorá, meaning destruction."

LSU Ag Center

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – “In Louisiana, strawberries traditionally are planted from the beginning of October through mid-November,” according to LSU.

This year, growers in the state have had to deal with a disease called, “the plant destroyer.”

The “plant destroyer” is called Phytophthora and it is also referred to as water mold.

According to LSU AgCenter Plant Doctor, Raj Singh, Phytophthora is a “a soil-borne, fungal-like microorganism genus.”

Growers should look for these signs of the disease:

  • Random wilting of plants in the field
  • Diseased plants may appear stunted compared to nearby healthy plants
  • Wilted plants become brown and die within a few weeks
  • Cutting the crowns of wilted plants reveals a dark reddish-brown internal discoloration of the tissue

The bad news is that “The pathogen can survive for several years in infested fields and can spread with irrigation water and movement of contaminated soils by farm equipment,” according to the LSU Ag Center.

So how can a grower treat this disease?

The LSU AG Center suggests what they call an integrated approach.

That integrated approach is listed below:

  • Rapid and accurate identification of the cause of the problem
  • Symptomatic plants should be removed and properly discarded
  • Start with clean, disease-free plants, and plant in well-drained, fertile soils
  • Avoid planting in fields with a history of disease
  • Prepare fields to break any hardpans, and plant in raised beds to provide adequate water drainage
  • Clean tools
  • Remove crop debris from the fields after harvest is completed
  • Timely application of fungicides containing mefenoxam and metalaxyl as active ingredients in the Fall in commercial fields through drip irrigation
  • Repeating fungicide application during the rapid root growth period in the Spring.

If you have any questions about how to use fungicides, visit LSU AgCenter Plant Disease Management Guide.

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