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With the 2012 tobacco growing season wrapping up, growers are working hard to get their crops into the barns.
On one hand, the dry conditions of this past summer have kept leaf diseases such as frogeye and target spot in check, and we have not seen any blue mold across the state.
On the other hand, we saw more black shank and Fusarium wilt across the state than we have for the past three to four years.
Looking ahead to the next growing season, it is hard to say what will be the big disease issue. So much depends on the climate when we are dealing with diseases that strike tobacco.
However, we do know that some problems will show up again and again, once certain pathogens get established in float beds or the fields.
Begin thinking about diseases like Pythium root rot, target spot, black shank and Fusarium wilt, and determine the best methods to get a head start on managing them next season.
A critical step is to evaluate your sanitary practices on the farm. Many diseases seen in the float-bed system and field survive between crops on equipment and plant residues.
Thoroughly clean and sanitize greenhouses, trays and outdoor float beds in the fall to reduce overwintering pathogen populations. Make sure to bury or burn plant debris and trash.
In the field, especially where black shank may have been a problem, it is important to turn all crop debris as quickly as possible after harvest. The black shank pathogen survives very well on crop residues and stalks left in the field, leading to future disease outbreaks. But, by plowing those crop residues under in the fall, soil microbes will have more time to break down plant matter and reduce survival of the pathogen.
One of the best practices for preventing or suppressing disease is rotation to a non-host crop. Even though we are many months away from planting, start the planning process now and make decisions about field choice and potential rotation crops.
Fall is a great time to think about variety selection and begin planning for transplant production.
Varieties such as KT 210, KT 206, and KT 209 continue to perform well against black shank.
KT 210 offers a good combination of black shank and Fusarium wilt resistance. We should also see a wider availability of KT 212, an early-maturing variety that is similar to 14 X L8, but with moderate resistance to race 1 black shank.
For more information on disease management practices in tobacco or variety selection, contact the Carroll Cooperative Extension Service.
Dates of Interest
Wednesday, Sept. 5: Carroll County Agricultural Development Fund meets at 6 p.m. at the Carroll County Extension Office.
Also on the 5th, the Carroll County Agricultural Development Council meets at 8 p.m. at the Extension office.
Thursday, Sept. 6: Pesticide Container Recycle Day, 9 a.m. to noon at the Extension office.
Thursday, Sept. 13: Carroll County Senior Event 2012, “Senior Picnic at the Park,” begins at 5 p.m. at Point Park in Carrollton.
Christin Herbst is the Carroll County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources. Call her at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to Christin.Herbst@uky.edu.