By Clint Thompson
Seminis Vegetable Seeds (Bayer) has an answer for those pepper producers combating bacterial leaf spot disease. New varieties with disease resistance are critical for growers who are concerned that they are overusing imperfect fungicides.
Andrew Scruggs, market development representative in North Carolina for Bayer Vegetable Seeds, discussed the situation facing growers.
“You think about the Southeast United States, it’s really the perfect environment for this disease to develop. Outside of having host resistance in our varieties, it’s a very difficult disease to control. There are very limited and not very effective options from a spray standpoint to be able to control this disease,” Scruggs said. “We’ve had X10R (trademark name for resistance) resistant peppers for quite some time in green bales. Now we’ve released some varieties in colored bales. We have red bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, orange bell peppers on the market that have this resistance of bacterial leaf spot.”
Bacterial leaf spot is disease caused by a bacteria. It thrives in warm, humid conditions and is predominantly in peppers and tomatoes. It has largely been managed by growers using copper sprays, though most of the strains of bacteria have become resistant to copper and are not effective.
“Pesticide resistance is definitely an issue. Any time we at Seminis have the opportunity to help a grower manage a problem from a genetic standpoint, that’s certainly what we strive for,” Scruggs said.
The disease’s main symptoms are observed on the foliage and leaves, as it creates a spot. Once the spot develops, the leaves will fall off plants, fruit will be exposed, and the plant is vulnerable to a sunburn. Bacteria can also affect the fruit.
There are four pepper varieties that feature either the X10R or X5R for bacterial leaf spot. They include: X10R Variety® SVPB8193 – Yellow Bell Pepper; X10R Variety® SVPB8500 – Orange Bell Pepper; X10R Variety® SVPB4272 – Red Bell Pepper; and X5R Variety® Maximinus – Red Bell Pepper.
“At Seminis, we work very closely with the growers in the development of these products. We conduct all of our trials before we decide to commercialize a product on growers’ farms so that we can make sure that even outside of an innovative trait such X10R resistance, that we’re also delivering the yield, fruit quality and all the other traits that the grower requires,” Scruggs said.