Hemp Field Sanitation for Small-Scale Plantings
IMPORTANCE OF SANITATION
Although hemp is considered a disease-free plant, it is unknown whether levels of certain pathogens can build up to problematic levels. If diseases become a significant problem in field-planted hemp, results can include premature leaf drop, bud decay, dieback, decline, and even plant death. When diseases do occur, it is often presumed that fungicides are the most important and effective disease management tools available. However, there are limited fungicides available for use in hemp. Thus, a good sanitation program can help reduce the need for chemical controls and can improve the effectiveness of other practices for managing disease. This often-overlooked disease management tool reduces pathogen numbers and eliminates infective propagules (inoculum such as fungal spores and survival structures) that cause disease.
For example, certain fungal and water molds can become prevalent during rainy or humid growing seasons. When disease management is neglected, pathogen populations build-up and continue to increase as long as there is susceptible plant tissue available for infection and disease development. Infected plant tissue, infested soil, and pathogen propagules all serve as sources of pathogens that can later infect healthy plants.
Reduction of pathogens by various sanitation practices can reduce both active and dormant pathogens. While actively growing plants can provide host tissue for pathogen multiplication, dead plant material (diseased foliage, stems, and/or roots) can harbor overwintering propagules for months or years. These propagules can travel via air/wind currents, stick to shoes or tools, or move with contaminated soil or water droplets. Thus, prevention of spread of pathogens to healthy plants and the elimination of any disease-causing organisms from one season to another are the foundations for a disease management program using sanitation practices.
Elimination and/or reduction of pathogens from the plantings results in fewer pathogen propagules. The following sanitary practices can reduce amounts of infectious pathogens:
Extension Plant Pathology Publications http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcollege/plantpathology/extension/pubs.html
Adapted from PPFS-GEN-05 Fruit, Orchard, and Vineyard Sanitation by Dr. Nicole Ward Gauthier, David Koester, and Faye Tewksbury.
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