Alternaria disease is alive and well in Alabama vegetables and needs to be monitored, especially as temperatures remain unseasonably mild this winter.
Joe Kemble, Alabama Extension vegetable specialist, said growers need to be vigilant in monitoring their crops.
“Despite the temperature, disease is still an issue right now. Last week I saw some pretty impressive Alternaria on several brassicas,” Kemble said.
“Unfortunately, temperature range wise, Alternaria is still going to be active with our fairly mild winters. It’s the kind of thing that can take off surprisingly quickly. I encourage growers to especially look on the edge of fields, row ends and things like that. It’s pretty characteristic and the nice thing is, there are very good controls out there for conventional producers.”
What is Alternaria?
Alternaria is a fungal disease that can cause a leaf spot. This will make impacted vegetables unmarketable. Greens like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower are especially vulnerable.
This winter is expected to be especially mild since a La Nina weather pattern is predicted to move through. Warm temperatures are a characteristic of a La Nina, which means disease pressure could remain high.
“Unfortunately, the weather we’ve got, it’s still pretty conducive to development in Alabama. We never have prolonged freezing temperatures. That means that, unfortunately, diseases can be problematic especially when we have a mild winter like we’re supposed to have,” Kemble said.
“Unless we’re going to have weeks of temperatures below 30 degrees, 35, below 40 degrees basically, it’s always going to be an issue.”