It may be the end of the season for many South Florida vegetable and specialty crop producers, but preparations should already be made for the upcoming fall season.
According to the South Florida Pest and Disease Hotline, field sanitation is one of the most important management tools that producers utilize. It’s essential that growers clean up crop residues after harvest. Proper sanitation will protect fields from serving as hosts for many vegetable pests and diseases.
“Sanitation includes any practice that eradicates or reduces the amount of pathogen inoculum, pests, or weed seeds present and thus helps reduce or eliminate subsequent pest and disease problems,” according to the South Florida Pest and Disease Hotline. “Good sanitation will help control a number of important vegetable pathogens.”
What Can Happen?
Downy mildew and powdery mildew on melons can spread from older, diseased plants to surrounding fields where plants are still maturing. They can only grow and multiply on living host tissue.
The bacterium that leads to bacterial spot of tomato and pepper is unable to survive for an extended length of time outside the host tissue. If growers will plow or disk their infected plant debris, this helps by covering up the inoculum and speeds up the disintegration of plant tissue.
If growers destroy their tomato vines, this will kill off white fly populations and eliminate any potential transmission of the tomato yellow leaf curl virus and other viruses to subsequent crops.
Cull piles should not be neglected as well, as they could be infected with insects and diseases like tomato yellow leaf curl virus, late blight and whiteflies.
Cover crops are also an effective way to reduce weed populations that can cause problems in the subsequent crop. If producers will keep weeds from propagating, it will reduce any potential problems encountered during the next season.