Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Enrollment

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Be on the Lookout for Southern Blight

Ethan Grundberg, Vegetable Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

April 27, 2018

Southern Blight is caused by the fungal pathogen Sclerotium rolfsii and has historically only been a concern to growers in southern states. However, Cornell pathologist Dr. Sarah Pethybridge has seen an

increase in the incidence of Southern Blight in New York over the past several years. This winter, Dr. Pethybridge confirmed the presence of S. rolfsii on golden storage beets in Dutchess County. Given the broad host range of the pathogen that includes over 1,200 crops and weeds, it is imperative that growers who suspect a possible Southern Blight infestation on their farm contact extension to confirm the diagnosis to assist with optimizing crop rotations to reduce soilborne inoculum.

The most common symptom observed in the field is wilting or collapse of the plant. Upon closer inspection, affected plants often have reddish-brown dry lesions at the soil line. Fungal mycelium is also usually present as a thick white mat around the base of the stem. The  Southern Blight pathogen also produces overwintering bodies called sclerotia under the right environmental conditions (typically high humidity with temperatures about 80 °F, but sclerotia were found on beets in cold storage at 40 °F). The sclerotia formed by S. rolfsii are a key identifying feature; they are small balls similar in appearance to Dijon mustard seeds that change in color from white to golden to reddish-brown (see image). These sclerotia can survive in the soil for years and endure temperature extremes and drought while waiting to germinate in the presence of a host plant under the right environmental conditions. 

Crops that are most commonly affected by Southern Blight are tomatoes, peppers, snap beans, onions, garlic, and Jerusalem artichokes; however, as indicated above, the pathogen can grow and reproduce on a much broader range of plants. Like with most diseases, early detection and proper identification are critical! Infested plants should be removed and destroyed if possible. Symptomatic plants should NOT be placed in compost, as they may contain sclerotia that will then be spread with the compost to other fields. Some small grains and corn are less susceptible to Southern Blight and can be used in rotation in heavily infested fields, but crop rotation is typically not a viable strategy for management of this pathogen given its broad host range. Initial research in New York suggests that deep plowing of infested fields to bury sclerotia and infested residue at least 6-inches deep can lower the pathogen's survival rate.

Several effective chemical controls are available to conventional growers, but they must be applied preventatively. Labeled formulations of azoxystrobin (Quadris), pyraclostrobin (Cabrio), and penthiopyrad (Fontelis) have been effective for growers in the south. Some research has suggested that OMRI-approved biocontrol agents, such as Trichoderma harzianum (RootShield, TerraGrow) and Gliocladium virens (SoilGard), may also help reduce the number of Southern Blight sclerotia and prevent colonization of host plant tissue by the pathogen.

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Upcoming Events

ENY Orchard Soil Health and Beneficial Fungi Meeting

August 15, 2024 : ENY Orchard Soil Health and Beneficial Fungi Meeting
Peru, NY

The soils that we grow our trees in play a critical role in the success of our orchard's productivity.  Mycorrhizal fungi provide many benefits to the soils, though it is still unclear to what extent inoculating our soils with commercial blends of these fungi may have on the growth of trees during orchard establishment.

Join the members of CCE ENYCHP and the Cornell Soil Health Program for a field meeting on the basics of soil health, the potential benefits of mycorrhizal fungi, and an update on the current project status of our SARE grant on orchard mycorrhizal products.

This meeting is intended for farmworkers, young and beginning orchardists, and experienced orchard managers wanting to learn about the basics of soil health and mycorrhizal fungi within the orchard.

View ENY Orchard Soil Health and Beneficial Fungi Meeting Details

North Point Community Farm Twilight Meeting

Event Offers DEC Credits

August 19, 2024 : North Point Community Farm Twilight Meeting
Plattsburgh, NY

North Point Community Farm Twilight Meeting

Monday, August 19th 4-7 pm (rain or shine)

2172 Military Turnpike, Plattsburgh, NY 12901

$10 per farm

Join us for a tour of North Point Community Farm, a diversified vegetable, berry, and flower operation in the North Country. Farmers Marisa and Mike will give us an overview of their decision-making as they expand their business, increasing their high tunnel production, investing in new tillage equipment, and transforming an old dairy barn into an efficient wash-pack shed with food safety in mind. We'll end the evening with local food refreshments and an opportunity to network with growers from NY and VT.

DEC credits: 1.5 credits in categories 1A, 10, 23

View North Point Community Farm Twilight Meeting Details

Drinkwine Produce Twilight Meeting

Event Offers DEC Credits

September 16, 2024 : Drinkwine Produce Twilight Meeting
Ticonderoga, NY

Drinkwine Produce Twilight Meeting

Monday, September 16th 4-6 pm (rain or shine)

1512 Street Rd, Ticonderoga, NY 12883

Join us for discussions on high tunnel tomato production and sweet corn and pumpkin IPM at Drinkwine Produce in Ticonderoga. Henry Drinkwine will provide an overview of his practices for maintaining high yields of tomatoes, including pollination and soil fertility management. In the second half of the meeting, CCE specialist Chuck Bornt will review integrated pest management for sweet corn and pumpkins, with hands-on scouting and identification of key pests and diseases.

DEC Credits: 1.5 credits in categories 1A, 10, 23

View Drinkwine Produce Twilight Meeting Details

Announcements

Resources from CCE ENYCHP!


This website (https://enych.cce.cornell.edu/) contains our calendar of upcoming programs and registration links. For updated programmatic information, technical resources and links to newsletters please see our program blog site: https://blogs.cornell.edu/enychp/.
We also maintain the following online resources that you can view directly from these links:

• CCE ENYCH YouTube (program videos): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSk_E-ZKqSClcas49Cnvxkw

• CCE ENYCH Facebook (program social media): https://www.facebook.com/CCEENYCHP/

• CCE ENYCH Instagram (program social media): https://www.instagram.com/cceenychp/?hl=en


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