By Clint Thompson
Alabama’s hemp season is still in its early stage, but crop disease is quickly becoming a concern for the state’s producers.
Katelyn Kesheimer, Auburn University Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, said weather conditions have been ripe for disease development.
“We hadn’t had rain in maybe about a week, then in some spots we got six inches in a couple of days (two weeks ago). It’s been real patchy. I think with just the humidity and earlier moisture, there was some disease on some of the mother plants or clones or transplants that were going out and going into the ground,” Kesheimer said. “Whether it was wind or rain, the pathogens were splashing around and infecting the mother plants. Looking at some of my plants right now, there’s certainly some leaf spot on these transplants for sure.”
She said there have been a “big flurry” of plantings in the past couple of weeks. Producers who have hemp in greenhouses or in fields are experiencing disease issues. Leaf spot and botrytis are a couple of diseases that have made their presence known already. Growers need to contact their Extension agent so disease identification can be done accurately.
“Whether you’re in Alabama or another state, get with your local Extension agent or specialist just so we get a proper ID. Then we can make a recommendation based on other states’ data or data in other crops,” Kesheimer added.
Sanitation is Key
Kesheimer said there is a list of fungicides available. The best management tactic, though, is sanitation.
“What we’re recommending is if you have infection in your greenhouse, clean it out. Sanitation is going to be your best friend this year, especially if you’re moving plants or taking cuttings or moving plants to the field. If you put disease plants in the field, those diseases can spread pretty easily and kill a bunch of plants,” Kesheimer said.