By Clint Thompson
Alabama Extension reminds specialty crop producers that Alabama diseases are prevalent and widespread across the state.
Ed Sikora, professor and Extension plant pathologist in the department of entomology and plant pathology at Auburn University, highlighted three Alabama diseases that growers should be wary of, especially during the current hot and dry conditions.
“One is powdery mildew. I’m seeing that on yellow squash and a few other cucurbits. It prefers hot and dry (conditions) typically. I saw quite a bit of it on yellow squash in the Mobile (Alabama) area,” Sikora said. “I think I talked about it with you a couple of weeks ago saying that one might start popping up quite a bit on cucumbers and some of the other cucurbit crops, if it stayed dry.”
The drought worsened over the past week in some areas across the Southeast, according to the most recent release of the U.S. Drought Monitor.
“I think the second one is southern blight. It is a fungal disease that we’re seeing quite a bit of on tomatoes and peppers now. But it has a wide host range so you can see it on watermelons and other crops,” Sikora said. “I think the hot temperatures also get that pathogen going as well.”
The third disease is tomato spotted wilt virus. Its presence is also due mainly to the heat and increased thrips populations, says Sikora.
“I saw quite a bit of it down in the Wiregrass area. We’re seeing it throughout the state, but I think where they grow peanuts and tomatoes in the same area; you’re seeing high thrips populations this year in a lot of row crops and you’re also seeing it on tomatoes. We’re seeing a lot of symptoms of spotted wilt on tomatoes. I also saw it on peppers (last week). That’s just due to the higher conditions and high thrips populations,” Sikora said.
Thrips vector the tomato spotted wilt virus.