End of the Season Vegetable Disease Notes

Bob Mulrooney, Extension Plant Pathologist; bobmul@udel.edu

Nematodes in Veggies
Fall is the best time to soil sample for nematode pests such as root knot, lesion, and other plant parasitic nematodes. After fall harvest but before any fall tillage is done, take soil cores six inches deep between plants in the row. Samples should be taken in the root zone of the old crop. Twenty cores per sample should be taken from random spots in the field and placed in a plastic bucket, gently mixed, and a pint of soil submitted for analysis. Large fields should be subdivided into blocks of 15-20 acres each and sampled separately. Nematode test bags and instructions are available for purchase from the county Extension offices. Samples cost $10.00. Fall sampling for root knot nematodes is strongly recommended for fields that will be planted in cucumbers, watermelons, cantaloupes, lima beans or other high-value vegetables where root knot could reduce production. Forms and instructions are also available on the web at http://ag.udel.edu/extension/pdc/index.htm.

Fall Sanitation
In vegetable production it is not a good idea to leave old crop residue in the field any longer than necessary. If the crop is allowed to survive after harvest, fungi that cause many diseases continue to increase on the surviving plants. This allows higher numbers of the fungus to potentially survive until next season. Sanitation (plowing or disking the old crop) will help prevent pathogen carry-over.

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