It’s finally spring and the new growing season is upon us. I already can’t wait to get my first seedlings in the ground. While it’s easy to dive into growing right away remember a little preparation can go a long way. A proactive plan for pest and disease management will help make sure you aren’t caught off guard this season.
Here are a few simple measures that can be used to lower the risk of disease without resorting to chemical treatments. I’ll even be using these in my home garden.
1. Clean up debris – Dead plant material, fruit, weeds, trash, or discarded tools are a prime habitat for pathogens. Pests, bacteria, and fungi can survive the winter on debris and then re-infect your plants in the spring. Remember to also check any water drainage systems or areas to ensure they are clear from debris.
2. Check airflow and light – Ensure that you have good air and light penetration even at the bottom of your plants. Disease often starts low in the cool moist air near the soil and then progresses upwards. Increasing airflow and light better distributes heat and can reduce condensation. Consider pruning the lower leaves of plants that aren’t getting enough light or using fans to help with airflow in a greenhouse.
3. Plan to scout regularly – Start planning a scouting program to regularly check your plants. Catching early warning signs of disease and pests could prevent an outbreak. Make sure to look underneath the leaves on all of your plants. Scouting and addressing any nutrient imbalances will help your plants fight off pests and diseases naturally. Think about any issues from the past growing season to help plan for this year. A group like Arbico Organics is a great place to go for pest, pathogen and nutrient solutions if you find any issues in the garden.
4. Monitor for disease – Consider using rapid test kits to check for the presence of disease or spores. Regular testing is important to know when and where new disease comes from. We recommend testing inbound material and new transplants to ensure you aren’t introducing any new pathogens to your operation.
Avoid the potential for sudden outbreaks, crop losses, or unexpected bills with a little prep work. Waiting until the last minute may not give you enough time to do the job properly. Remember ‘Chance favors the prepared mind’.
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