Georgia growers learn some lessons about crop diseases this year

By Robert C. Kemerait, UGA Cooperative Extension

Weather conditions played a big role in the types of diseases that were found on Georgia crops in 2013.

Rainfall delayed harvest for some cotton and soybean growers and brought diseases to peanuts, cotton and corn.

Cooler temperatures, however, kept at least one peanut mold at bay.

Pythium pod rot of peanuts has been identified in a number of fields where it was not known before.

Fusarium wilt of cotton has also appeared in an unusual number of fields, again likely due to the abundance of rainfall early in the season.

Many corn diseases, including rusts, blights, leaf spots and especially ear rots, were tremendously important in 2013.

Other diseases, like white mold (southern stem rot) and Cylindrocladium black rot (CBR) of peanuts were less common than expected, at least early in the season. Cooler-than-normal temperatures may have slowed the development of white mold.

University of Georgia plant pathologists are still scratching their heads to explain the very low severity of CBR this season. There is still much to learn about plant diseases.

Take away lessons

Five important points to be taken away from the 2013 field season are:

  • Climate, including a warmer winter, cooler spring, or wetter and cooler summer, can have a tremendous impact on the types and severity of diseases important to our farmers during a season. Weather patterns associated with climate may be more or less favorable for the development and spread of diseases. These same weather patterns may keep growers out of the field and from making timely fungicide applications.
  • Climate (and hurricanes) can be difficult to predict. It seems the prediction for “named storms” in 2013 continues to get less accurate as we move to the heart of hurricane season. This does not in any way diminish the importance of attention to climate predictive models for planning prior to a field season. It does however clearly show that Mother Nature is very complicated.

Read the rest of the story in Southeast Farm Press

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