Plant Disease Management Decisions to Make Before Planting

Emmanuel Byamukama
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For most plant diseases, in-season management choices are very limited. In fact, there are no in-season management options available for diseases caused by nematodes, viruses, and bacteria. Careful considerations are therefore needed before planting the crops.

Cultivar Selection

The first item to consider is cultivar selection. A good cultivar can give high yield even when it has moderate disease severity. Currently, cultivars with disease resistance traits do not cost any more than those without disease resistance traits. Growers should carefully select a cultivar to be planted based on the field history of plant diseases. For example, if the field has had sudden death syndrome of soybean (SDS) in the past, consider selecting a SDS resistant cultivar to plant. Seed companies provide a rating of cultivars for tolerance to the different diseases since not all of cultivars have resistance to the different diseases.

Seed Treatment

The next item to consider is seed treatment. Seed treatment is an important decision to make at planting. Seed treatments provide protection for the seed and seedling against soil-borne/seed-borne pathogens that may interfere with germination or cause seedling death. The common question associated with fungicide seed treatments is usually whether or not it pays for itself. When making the decision on whether or not to utilize a seed treatment, consider field history of poor plant stand, cultivar ratings against the disease being managed, and field conditions at plating (cold temperatures <55 F and high soil moisture at planting increase the risk for seedling root rots).

Sudden death syndrome is an example of one of the diseases, which is increased by planting early in cool, wet soils.
 

Sudden death syndrome is an example of one of the diseases, which is increased by planting early in cool, wet soils.