Commonly found throughout the United States, Fusarium wilt is a soil-borne pathogen that attacks potato, tomato, eggplant and pepper plants. Disease fungi (Fusarium oxysporum) enter through the roots and interfere with the water conducting vessels of the plant. As the infection spreads up into the stems and leaves it restricts water flow causing the foliage to wilt and turn yellow.
Symptoms first appear as a slight yellowing of foliage and wilting of upper leaves. As wilting progresses, leaves may turn dull-green to brown and remain attached to the plant. When the stem and roots are cut diagonally, reddish-brown streaks are visible in the vascular tissues.
Signs and symptoms:
- Initially, plants wilt during the hottest part of the day and recover at night.
- Leaflets turn yellow on one side of the plant, or even just leaflets on one half of a compound leaf.
- The entire plant soon turns yellow and wilts. Browning of leaves occurs rarely.
- Peel the epidermis off the lower stem to see dark red and brown discolored vascular tissue.
How to prevent:
Fusarium is most prevalent in warm soils. It is harbored in old plant debris and soil. The best way to prevent infection in your crops or plants is rotation and sterilization.
Never plant the same crop in the same place annually.
Pots should be sterilized with a bleach solution and new soil used when reusing them. You can also solarize beds, by spreading black plastic over an area in full sun for a month to kill the fungus. This causes extreme high temperatures that will “cook” the fungus and provide good control of Fusarium.
Wash off tillage equipment, shoes and other tools that might have encountered infected soil. Remove all old plant debris annually and if you think it might be contaminated, burn it. Do not compost contaminated material as this provides an ideal incubation condition for propagating the fungus.
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