Thursday, April 22, 2010

Don't Bring in Problems with Transplants!

Healthy vegetable transplants in a local greenhouse.

This is the time of year when commercial growers and homeowners alike are preparing for transplanting of vegetable crops.

Warning: Don't bring diseases into your garden or field on transplants!

Purchasing and planting diseased plants into your garden or production field can cause big headaches and major problems later in the season.

Be sure to inspect transplants before you purchase them, especially from home garden centers! Often diseased vegetable starts find their way onto retailers' shelves.

Last year, there was a major problem with late blight on tomato transplants that were purchased from some garden centers. Though this was not a problem in North Carolina, the lesson is still an important one: Do not purchase any plants that have visible signs of disease including lesions, spots, specks, wilts, discoloration, etc!

Some disease problems to look out for are bacterial spot on tomatoes and peppers, damping-off on many different vegetable crops and late blight on tomato and potato.

In addition, always make sure your transplants have nice, healthy, white root growth. Pull a few plants out and inspect their root system. Also, handle your transplants with care. If you pinch the tender stem of a transplant too tightly, you could damage it and invite pathogens in for attack.

Pepper transplants which became diseased by Alternaria spp. after improper handling.

Dr. Mary Hausbeck from Michigan State University has just published an on-line report for greenhouse producers entitled: Transplant Diseases: Identification and Control. This publication includes conventional control measure for greenhouse producers that produce transplants, but it also includes some good identification tips for everyone purchasing or producing vegetable transplants.

*Special thanks to Dr. Kelly Ivors for reminding me about this important topic!*

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