Thursday, July 8, 2010

Insects & Diseases to be on the Alert For

Downy mildew on basil. This picture is taken from Sue Colucci's blog article on the disease at

I was reading an article in the May 2010 issue of the American Vegetable Grower called "A Barrage of Bugs" and it got me thinking of the calls and emails that I have been receiving from growers and agents so far this summer.  Thought I'd give you a short update on what some folks are reporting so you can be on the alert in your own fields:
  • Stink Bugs: reports of problems by both home gardeners and commercial farmers are on the increase.  Stink bugs can make a real mess out of a beautiful crop of tomatoes.  They also are affecting beans, peppers, and cucurbits.  If you are a conventional, commercial farmer there are many insecticides at your disposal that are effective.  Home gardeners and organic farmers don't have as many options.  Pyrethrum based products are sometimes effective.
  • Thrips: in our area the biggest concern is that some species of thrips transmit tomato spotted wilt virus which can destroy your tomato crop.  Conventional growers will find many suggestions for thrips control in the Southeast Vegetable Production  Handbook  Organic farmers will also find control suggestions on various organic websites.  We have had success with the product Ecotec.
  • Late Blight: we don't have it in our area yet, but you should be on the alert for it and keep up with all monitoring that is going on by various universities.  As soon as it is reported in your area, take preventative action on tomatoes and potatoes.  There are many university websites providing good late blight control recommendations for conventional farmers.  Organic farmers, I suggest you look at this article by Alex Stone on eXtension  In our studies in western NC, we had pretty good success holding off late blight last year using Serenade and copper in one spray, five days later applying Sporatec and Neem and then alternating those sprays every five days.
  • Basil Downy Mildew: this is a new disease that you should be watching for. Sue Colucci, area extension agent in WNC, just posted a great article about this disease with pictures and management recommendations on her blog at
  • Cucurbit Downy Mildew: this one will take out your pumpkin patch real quick!  So monitor its progress, it's carried in the wind, on the forecasting service at and learn how to identify it.  See the June NC Pest News for conventional downy mildew control suggestions and the Cornell Resouce Guide for Organic Insect and Disease Management for organic suggestions

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