sunORGANIC GARDENING FOR THE SOUTHWEST
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ARTICLE  16-  Diseases

DAMPING OFF DISEASE

If your seedlings come up, and then quickly wilt and die off, it is probably because of this disease that hits mainly newly germinated seeds.  It is easy to prevent by keeping seeds moist, but not too wet, and making sure they have good air circulation.

SOIL DISEASES-FUSARIAN AND VERTICILLIUM WILT

These 2 soil diseases are caused by viruses and are very difficult to eliminate once you have them in your soil. They are unfortunately very common in the desert southwest.  The symptoms are very similar, the plants will suddenly wilt even though the soil is moist, and die very quickly. The best solution is prevention, which includes buying resistant varieties, rotating crops regularly (don't plant tomatoes, peppers or eggplants in the same place every year. Try to rotate locations so the same varieties are not in the same place for at least 3 years. Once you have the disease, the only 'cure' is to solarize the soil. This does not guarantee you won't have problems in the future, but it does help you reclaim a planting area once infected. Although both Fusarian and verticillium wilt are widespread throughout the U.S., Fusarian is more common in the desert southwest.

BACTERIAL WILT

Bacterial wilt affects many vegetable plants. It is spread by the cucumber beetle. There is no cure except controlling the beetle. Rotating crops help, and not composting infected plants can control the beetle somewhat. The disease causes wilting of leaves and rapid decline of the plant. Destroy infected plants as it is easily spread.  Floating row covers can help early in the growing season, but it is not advisable to leave them on during the hottest part of the summer.

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