Protecting Tomatoes at Different Stages

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Gary Vallad

Gary Vallad, associate professor of plant pathology at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, is working to discover the best ways to fight disease in tomatoes. He says a main issue is bacterial spot in fields and transfer houses.

“Typically, growers have relied heavily on copper-based products for managing disease in the field, but unfortunately we have pretty much all our strains now that we’ve ever discovered in tests exhibiting high levels of tolerance to copper-based products,” says Vallad.

In testing, product defense elicitors have been used. This type of product is one Vallad would recommend to growers for protecting tomatoes from bacterial spot in the field.

Vallad says he is also looking at preventing diseases in seed production. In an effort to do this, he says he and his team have visited many seed production areas around the world to collect different strains to compare them to the strains found locally. This could potentially lead to creating tomatoes with better resistance to more strains of bacteria.

“The next area we’re looking at is trying to find ways to better manage bacterial outbreaks in transplant production,” reports Vallad. He says if a seed is infected, even a small part of the seed, it can lead to a disease quickly spreading in a transplant house because of the type of irrigation used.

The goal of this research is to be completed in the fall of 2017 and to present the data at the next Tomato Institute in Naples, Florida.

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Jaci Schreckengost

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