Even After Devastation, Avoid Spreading Diseases and Nematodes

— Written By

Bob Kemerait | Nov 12, 2018 | Southeast Farm Press

In the devastation some endured in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, harvest continued as best it could.

The urgency before the storm, when growers struggled to keep pickers and combines ahead of the wind and rain, gave way to what was left. In a time like was experienced, the last things on a farmer’s mind would be diseases and nematodes. But if I could capture a grower’s attention, even briefly, I would encourage him to consider two things:

No. 1 — During harvest growers have an opportunity to observe and assess damage from diseases and nematodes that have been hidden earlier. Damage to roots, pods, bolls, and lower limbs may be unknown until harvest. Other damage, such as premature cutout, stunting, and even plant death may be most obvious when harvest is underway. Taking time to get the problem diagnosed, either through collection of soil samples or with the help of Extension agents and consultants, can be key to management decisions for 2019.

No. 2 — Take the time and effort needed to avoid spreading plant-parasitic nematodes and disease-causing organisms from infested fields to fields where the problem has yet to occur. Field sanitation and care in moving equipment between fields may not be convenient, but such practices can be crucial in the battle to keep risk to diseases and nematodes low from field to field.

“Excluding” diseases or nematodes from a non-infested field is a critical management strategy and simply means “keeping the bad stuff out.”

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