79 articles tagged "Solanaceous Crops".

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Below, I will briefly discuss a few of the diseases that I have observed on tomatoes recently. Powdery mildew of tomato – Powdery mildew of tomato is not usually a common problem in Indiana. However, in recent years, there have been more reports of this disease than usual. Powdery mildew is more often observed in a greenhouse situation than in a field. The key symptoms of this disease are the talc-like lesions on the upper and lower leaf surfaces (Figure 1). It is important to note that the location of the upper and lower lesions do not correspond with each other. When the lesions are young, it may almost seem as if the lesions can be ‘wiped off’. Few varieties exist with good levels of host resistance, although growers may notice some difference in susceptibility between varieties. It may not be necessary to treat tomatoes affected with powdery mildew with fungicides. If[Read More…]


I have recently received a number of calls from growers about how to prune determinate tomatoes in a stake and weave system. Although this is relatively easy compared to how to prune indeterminate tomatoes with a trellis system, there are a few things I would like to call to your attention. What to prune  The common practice is to prune the suckers at the bottom of tomato plants. The benefit of this practice is to improve airflow which may help to control foliar diseases. Shoots of determinate tomatoes stop growing once they set a terminal bud. Most of us understand that if suckers are pruned too much, plants may have reduced yield.  However, there is confusion about exactly what to prune. Normally, the bottom 6-7 suckers should be pruned until the first flower cluster. But it is important to note that the sucker just below the first flower cluster develops a[Read More…]


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I recently encountered some lesions of Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV) that appeared relatively large and had a ring-like structure.  I was able to confirm the presence of the virus, but at first glance, the lesions could be mistaken for a very common tomato disease: early blight. This article will describe how the foliar lesions of these two diseases might be distinguished. First, a bit about the symptoms of these diseases. Early blight is perhaps the most common foliar disease of tomato in Indiana. One might first notice that the older leaves turn necrotic. If left uncontrolled, the diseased lesions appear to ‘move’ up the plant. A closer look at early blight lesions may reveal the bull’s-eye lesions of this disease (Figure 1). These lesions may also be described as having concentric rings similar to a target. (Early blight is not the only disease to have concentric rings.) I usually[Read More…]


Figure 2: A tomato with tomato spotted wilt virus has necrotic ring spots.

While many virus diseases affect pepper and tomato plants, in the Midwest, the most common virus diseases of these two crops are tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) and Impatiens necrotic spot virus (INSV). These diseases are usually observed in greenhouse or high tunnel situations. The two viruses, TSWV and INSV are closely related. In fact, at one time, they were both considered TSWV. Therefore, the symptoms, biology and management of these two diseases are similar. This article discusses the symptoms, biology and management of these two diseases. Both TSWV and INSV affect many hosts, including vegetables and flowering ornamentals. Symptoms vary according to host, stage of plant affected and environmental conditions. Both diseases can cause stunting, yellowing, necrotic rings, leaf mottle and more. Figure 1 shows a tomato leaf with necrotic rings caused by TSWV. Figure 2 shows a pepper transplant with ring spots caused by INSV. Additional symptoms may[Read More…]


A grafted tomato plant grown in a high tunnel

Awareness of tomato grafting has increased tremendously in the past years. Some growers fall in love with this technology and apply it to every tomato they grow. While others find this technology is not cost effective. The growers who have successfully adapted this technology are often small-scale, high tunnel or greenhouse growers who have mastered the grafting technique. They graft tomatoes by themselves and often can achieve a high survival rate. In this case, the added cost for grafted plants is mainly the cost of rootstock seeds, which is roughly 30-50 centers per plant. A small amount of yield increase could easily compensate for the added cost. This is particularly true for tomatoes grown in high tunnels that often sell at a higher price. In situations that farmers buy grafted plants, the cost rangs from $1 to $3 per plant. Farmers would expect a high percentage of yield increase to compensate for[Read More…]


Figure 1. Tomatoes are grown under a retractable tunnel system.

Tomato foliar diseases such as early blight, Septoria leaf blight, bacterial spot and speck that are commonly seen in the field are often less common on tomatoes grown in greenhouses and high tunnels. It is also true that high tunnel tomatoes have smoother skins than tomatoes grown in the fields. An important factor that determines this difference is rainfall. Pathogens that cause foliar diseases require leaves to be wet in order for infection to occur and rely on rain for spread. In addition, heavy rains cause tomato physiological disorders such as rain check. It is great that greenhouse and high tunnel structures prevent tomato canopies from direct exposure to rainfall, however, a significant initial investment is required for building the structures, and it is hard to relocate them after they are built. This summer, we used a retractable tunnel to grow tomatoes and peppers in the field (Figure 1). The tunnels[Read More…]


Figure 1. Galling of tomato roots infested by root-knot nematode.

In a recent grower visit in southwest Indiana, we saw a severe root-knot nematode infestation on high tunnel tomatoes. Soil fumigation is by far the most effective approach to control nematodes, but many soil fumigants are not labeled for greenhouse (high tunnel) use. In addition, the types of equipment that used for soil fumigation are often hard to fit into high tunnels. Considering the constraints, this article focuses on cultural practices to control root-knot nematodes that can be easily adopted by small-scale, high tunnel growers. Root-knot nematodes are small, colorless roundworms that dwell in the soil. They penetrate into plant root in the juvenile stage. Once they find a favorable location in plant tissues, they stop moving. Infested root cells start swelling and form galls that are the characteristic symptom of root-knot nematode infestation (Figure 1.). Infested roots fail to absorb water and nutrient resulting  in stunted growth, yellowing and[Read More…]


Southern blight canker at the base of a pepper plant. Tomatoes can also be affected by this disease.

Southern blight of pepper and tomato thrives under hot, dry conditions. Usually, such conditions are more likely in August. Production under tunnels may contribute to the dry conditions that influences southern blight. This article will discuss the symptoms, biology and management of southern blight of tomato. Southern blight has a wide host range affecting many vegetable, field and ornamental crops. Tomato is the most important host. The disease is caused by the fungus Sclerotium rolfsii. This fungus is related to the one that causes white mold.The first symptom one is likely to observe of southern blight is plant wilt. At the base of the plant, one is likely to notice a canker with sclerotia that may be as large as a sesame seed (Figure 1). These sclerotia are survival structures for the fungus and allow the disease to occur in the same location years later. The sclerotia for southern blight are round,[Read More…]


After harvest, storing vegetables in optimal conditions is important to ensure the whole season’s hard work has paid off. This article discusses the optimum storage conditions for tomato, pepper, cucumber, watermelon, cantaloupe and sweet corn. Tomato Ideal storage conditions for tomatoes depend on the maturity stage of picking. If tomatoes are picked at mature green, store them in 66 to 70°F with 90 to 95% RH would encourage uniform ripening. Temperatures above 81°F reduce intensity of red color and reduce fruit shelf-life. Green tomatoes are chilling sensitive. If the temperature is below 55°F, fruit may develop chilling injury. Red tomatoes are safe to store at 50°F, however, flavor and aroma may be negatively affected compared to storing them at 55°F. Pepper Optimum storage condition for peppers is 45 to 55°F with 90 to 95% RH. Temperatures lower than 45°F may cause chilling injury. Colored peppers are in general less chilling[Read More…]


Figure 1. The small hole on pepper fruit is likely caused by corn earworm (photo by Wenjing Guan)

European corn borers used to be a serious pest of peppers. The larvae would burrow into the fruit under the cap, making it difficult to cull out infested fruit. With the widespread adoption of Bt corn by agronomic farmers, populations of corn borers have been greatly reduced. However, it appears that in the last couple of years, corn borers have been making a comeback, so management of this pest is still recommended. Corn earworms can also attack pepper fruit. They usually tunnel into the side of the fruit, making it easier to cull out infested fruit. Sometimes when fruit have been treated with insecticides, the larvae will die before they enter the fruit, leaving behind a feeding scar that will render the fruit unusable for fresh market sales. Corn borers can be controlled with Ambush®, Avaunt®, Bt®, Baythroid®, Brigade®, Coragen®, Entrust®, Exirel®, Intrepid®, Lannate®, Mustang Maxx®, Permethrin®, Radiant®, and Warrior®.[Read More…]


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