Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Disease and Insect Control Begins This Fall

By the time most autumn leaves have fallen from the trees and frost has killed your vegetables, you may no longer be thinking about weeds, plant diseases and insect problems, until next summer. Actually this is the perfect time to start a cultural IPM practice called fall sanitation. The following common-sense practices can help in controlling next year's diseases and insect problems in your garden, in your field, or in your high tunnel:

(1) Keep weeds pulled. Slugs and some insects (e.g., stink bugs, squash bugs) can overwinter in weedy areas and weeds will seed themselves, becoming a much more challenging problem the next year.

(2) When the crop is finished, remove and destroy all plant material including the roots. Many plant disease organisms (called pathogens) survive the winter in infected plant debris. Examples include pathogens that cause fungal diseases in tomato such as anthracnose, gray mold, early blight, leaf mold, and Septoria leaf spot.

(3) Be sure to continue controlling important insect pests such as squash bugs and cucumber beetles into fall. In the case of cucumber beetles, the pathogen that causes bacterial wilt of cantaloupe, cucumber, and other cucurbits overwinters only inside the beetles’ gut.

(4) Disinfect tools and shears.

(5) Practice record keeping by writing down what soil amendments you used, what IPM practices worked best and what didn’t work, and what crops you grew in each area. That will help you to plan your crop rotations.

Don’t let the pest overwinter in your vegetable production site!

(by Jaime Pinero, Integrated Pest Management specialist, Lincoln University)

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