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Posted 29 April 2014. PMN Crop News.

Implement an IPM Strategy to Limit the Damage of Plant Pathogens

Source: Michigan State University Press Release.

East Lansing, Michigan (April 11, 2014)--Plant pathogens can be naturally occurring in the soil or be introduced inadvertently on seed, tubers or transplants. For pathogens that are introduced in seed or propagative material, management strategies should focus on preventing the introduction of these pathogens into the greenhouse or field.


Plant pathogens that thrive, reside and overwinter in the soil are commonly called soilborne pathogens. They can form resting structures that are resilient to the cold temperatures and can survive cold winters. Many of these pathogens can survive in the soil for several years and can be a challenge to manage.

Michigan State University Extension advises growers to implement an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy to limit the damage pathogens can cause.

Effective disease management requires implementing the following IPM tactics:

Reduce the risk of introducing pathogens into fields by using certified seed and disease-free transplants (learn to recognize diseases on vegetable transplants in the greenhouse).

Use pathogen-free irrigation water and avoid overwatering (see irrigation and disease management).

Work fields with diagnosed soilborne diseases last to avoid moving soil particles that carry pathogen propagules from problematic fields to clean fields.

Select well-drained sites.

Get an accurate disease diagnosis (see a checklist for submitting samples to diagnostic lab) as one is required to implement effective management. Control strategies differ by pathogen as fungicides are often specific to a particular type of pathogen.

Keep records of the soilborne pathogens diagnosed in each field.

Rotate crops and avoid crops susceptible to the pathogens confirmed in each field.

Select crop varieties with resistance to problematic pathogens when available.

Power wash equipment to avoid moving pathogen propagules among fields.

During the season, monitor and scout fields to detect symptoms early, practice sanitation and, when needed, rogue diseased plants.