Tips For Thinning Avocado Fruit: Is Avocado Fruit Thinning Necessary

If you have an avocado tree that is so rife with fruit, the limbs are in danger of breaking. This may lead you to wonder, “Should I thin my avocado fruit?” Avocado fruit thinning is similar to thinning other fruiting trees, such as apples. Removing avocado fruit may or may not be a good idea, it all depends on how and when you go about thinning the avocado fruit. So how do you thin avocado fruit? Read on to learn more.

About Avocado Fruit Thinning.

Columnar cultivars of avocado are pinched at an early age to attain a more rounded habit, but most other types of avocado require no training and little pruning. Any pruning of avocado that may be done is done so judiciously since avocado trees are susceptible to sunscald, which results in defoliation. Avocado fruit is also self-thinning, so thinning avocado fruit is generally not required.

Should I Thin My Avocadoes?

While thinning isn’t normally required, several cultivars of avocado are in the habit of bearing fruit in alternate years. That is, in a particular year, the tree produces a staggering amount of fruit, so much that the energy from the tree either cannot support the enormous quantity or the resulting yield is high but fruit is small. In the following year, the tree’s energy is so depleted that it barely fruits, if at all. In this case, it may be advisable to lightly thin the fruit. Also, thinning is advisable when multiple trees begin to grow together such that their canopies begin to lose light.

How to Thin Avocado Fruit When trees are bearing overly heavily, they often drop a lot of fruit before it reaches maturity and any fruit that is left behind is often of a small size. Removing some avocado fruit will allow the tree to expend energy on the remaining avocadoes, resulting in larger fruit. Avocado fruit is borne in clusters, sometimes just a few and sometimes many fruit are growing together. Take a good look at the grouping of immature fruit and identify any that are misshapen, diseased or pest damaged, and the smallest fruit. These are the fruit you will remove, leaving just the largest, healthiest looking avocado in the cluster. Using sharp bypass pruners, snip off the immature fruit at the stem. I know it’s hard, but continue in this way until you have evenly spaced fruit on the tree. Space fruit about 6 inches (15 cm.) apart on the tree. If you have a cluster of fruit very close to the one that has just been thinned, it is best to remove it rather than thinning to one fruit.

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Tips to Grow Hard-to-Propagate Plants!

Growing Hard-To-Propagate Plants

Some plants thrive extremely easily whether grown through cuttings or otherwise. However, many are difficult to propagate no matter how much you pamper them. Out of such plants only a small percentage shows rooting. Well, there are a few extra steps one may follow to improve and accelerate their rooting rate. Follow them and let the plant rooting rate elevate dramatically:

  • Sufficient Lighting: It goes without saying that most plants need at least 8 hours of sunlight per day. So arrange a site where they can receive sufficient sunlight in order to thrive. If you are growing hydroponically, make sure to keep those grow lights on continuously to let your plants take roots. This is because optimal light is required for the formation of carbohydrates which in turn help to create roots.
  • Choose an Appropriate Cloning or Rooting Gel: If you are cloning your plants, it is necessary to select a subtle rooting or cloning gel for rapid root development. This will make your stems grow fast by providing them the necessary hormones required for faster rooting. The gel will not only let a large percentage of cuttings grow but will also prevent them from transplant shock. Recommended is to use Olivia’s Cloning Gel for 100% success rate.
  • Monitor Temperature Carefully: It is necessary to choose a suitable growing site that will provide an optimal temperature to your plants. If you have fragile cuttings, make sure to maintain an appropriate temperature for your grow room too. Although the exact ideal temperature depends upon the plants you are growing, grow room’s temperature should not exceed 75 Degrees Fahrenheit.
  • ‘Wound’ Those Stems: If you have stem cuttings, scrape off the outer section of their bottom with a razor blade or knife. This is called wounding and it will help exposing the inner section more, which in turn will encourage root formation. Moreover, applying cloning gel directly to the innermost part will prove to be more effective.

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6 Expert Tips for Growing Watermelon

Watermelon is such a delicious summer treat! There’s nothing like a fresh, ripe watermelon on a sunny day! That watermelon is likely to be even more delicious if you know it grew in your own backyard! While growing watermelon can be very rewarding, it’s also a little tricky. To help you out, here are 6 Expert Tips for Growing Watermelon!6

Expert Tips for Growing Watermelon

1. Give the plants enough space. Watermelons need space. A lot of space, in fact. Not only do most watermelon plants grow large fruit, but they also need a lot of space for their vines. Some vines can travel as far as 20 feet from a plant! To ensure your plants have enough space, place each watermelon hill 3-4 feet apart from the other and plant each row of hills 8 feet apart.

2. Plant multiple plants, then thin. An easy way to grow great watermelons is to plant multiple seeds from the start. When they start to grow, you can decide which ones look like they have the most promise, and thin out the rest. You should plant about 8-10 watermelon seeds in each hill, placing the seeds about 1 inch deep in the soil. When the seeds have grown into seedlings, thin them so that only 3 are left in each hill.

3. Watch out for bugs. Like most crops, watermelons are susceptible to damage from insects. In particular, you should watch out for vine borers and cucumber beetles. To protect your watermelon plants from these pests, you can use floating row covers. However, those aren’t a permanent solution as you’ll need to remove them when it’s time for the watermelons’ flowers to get pollinated by bees and other insects. If necessary, you could use a chemical or natural insecticide instead.

4. Don’t water too much. One of the great things about watermelons is that they have long roots that go deep underground. As a result, if you want to grow great watermelons you should only water them occasionally. Try to keep their soil moist, but not sopping wet. And when you water, try to water the ground directly, not the foliage, as that could lead to fungi developing. While it’s normal for watermelon leaves to wilt during the hottest part of the day, they shouldn’t still be wilted by nighttime. If so, your plants are dehydrated.

5. Weed early. All plants need weeding. With watermelons, you’ll want to stay even more on top of the weeds, especially when the plants are young. This is because you’ll find it difficult to get among the watermelon vines to weed once the vines are fully developed. If you’re not careful, you could find yourself accidentally cutting vines, or even stepping on them! So try to remove weeds early on in your watermelons’ development and put down mulch to prevent other weeds from growing.

6. Prevent soil contact. When you’ve got watermelon fruits growing, you’ll want to make sure they don’t touch the soil. In order to grow great watermelons, you’ll need to put a barrier between the watermelons and the ground. This is to reduce the risk of rot and disease. Good ground barriers are straw, or even cardboard.

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MANGO – Pest & Disease Management

Image result for mango pest and diseases
Diseases: 
       Mango suffers from several diseases at all stages of its life. All the parts of the plant, namely, trunk, branch, twig, leaf, petiole, flower and fruit are attacked by a number of pathogens including fungi, bacteria and algae. They cause several kinds of rot, die back, anthracnose, scab, necrosis, blotch, spots, mildew, etc. Some of these diseases like powdery mildew are of great economic importance as they cause heavy losses in mango production. Major diseases of mango and their control measures are discussed below.
Anthracnose (Colletotrichum state of Glomerella cingulata Ston, Spaull and Schrenk):
 
Image result for mango anthracnose
            The anthracnose disease is of widespread occurrence. The disease causes serious losses to young shoots, flowers and fruits under favorable climatic conditions of high humidity, frequent rains and a temperature of 24-32oC. It is also affects fruits during storage. The disease produces leaf spot, blossom blight, wither tip, twig blight and fruit rot symptoms. Tender shoots and foliage are easily affected which ultimately cause “die back” of young branches. Older twigs may also be infected through wounds which in severe cases may be fatal.

Depending on the prevailing weather conditions blossom blight may vary in severity from slight to a heavy infection of the panicles. Black spots develop on panicles as well as on fruits. Severe infection destroys the entire inflorescence resulting in no setting of fruits. Young infected fruits develop black spots, shrivel and drop off. Fruits infected at mature stage carry the fungus into storage and cause considerable loss during storage, transit and marketing. The fungus perpetuates on twigs and leaves of mango or other hosts. Since the fungus has a long saprophytic survival ability on dead twigs, the diseased twigs should be pruned and burnt along with fallen leaves for reducing the inoculum potential.

Control:     Trees may be sprayed twice with Bavistin (0.1%) at 15 days interval during flowering to control blossom infection. Spraying of copper fungicides (0.3%) is recommended for the control of foliar infection.

Sooty mould (Meliola mangiferae):  
   
Image result for mango sooty mold
 
   The disease is common in the orchards where mealy bug, scale insect and hopper are not controlled efficiently. The disease in the field is recognized by the presence of a black velvety coating (i.e., sooty mould on the leaf surface). In severe cases the trees turn completely black due to the presence of mould over the entire surface of twigs and leaves. The severity of infection depends on the honey dew secretion by the above said insects. Honey dew secretions from insects sticks to the leaf surface and provide necessary medium for fungal growth. The fungus is essentially saprophytic and is non-pathogenic because it does not derive nutrients from the host tissues. Although no direct damage is caused by the fungus, the photosynthetic activity of the leaf is adversely affected due to blockage of stomata.

Control:       Pruning of affected branches and their prompt destruction prevents the spread of the disease.
Spraying of 2 per cent starch is found effective.
It could also be controlled by spraying of Nottasul + Metacin + gumacasea (0.2% + 0.1% + 0.3%).

Postharvest Diseases:      The mango fruit is susceptible to many postharvest diseases caused by anthracnose (C. gloeosporioides) and stem end rot (L. theobromae) during storage under ambient conditions or even at low temperature. Aspergillus rot is another postharvest disease of mango.

Control:    Pre-harvest sprays of fungicides could control the diseases caused by latent infection of these fungi. Postharvest dip treatment of fruits with fungicides could also control the diseases during storage.
The following treatments are suggested:
  • Three sprays of carbendazim (0.1%) orthiophante-methyl (0.1%) at 15 days interval should be done in such a way that the last spray falls 15 days prior to harvest.
  • Postharvest dip treatment of fruits in carbendazim (0.1%) in hot water at 52+1oC for 15 minutes.

Pests.   
    More than 492 species of insects, 17 species of mites and 26 species of nematodes have been reported to be infesting mango trees. Almost a dozen of them have been found damaging the crop to a considerable extent causing severe losses and, therefore, may be termed as major pests of mango. These are hopper, mealy bug, inflorescence midge, fruit fly, scale insect, shoot borer, leaf webber and stone weevil. Of these, insects infesting the crop during flowering and fruiting periods cause more severe damage. The insects other than those indicated above are considered as less injurious to mango crop and are placed in the category of minor pests. A brief description of the biology and control of major pests of mango is given below.

Hopper: 
Image result for mango hopper
    Of all the mango pests, hopper is considered as the most serious and widespread pest. Idioscopus clypealis Lethierry,Idioscopus nitidulus (Walker) and Amritodus atkinsoni Lethierry are the most common and destructive species of hoppers which cause heavy damage to mango crop. Large number of nymphs and adult insects puncture and suck the sap of tender parts, thereby reducing the vigor of the plants. Heavy puncturing and continuous draining of the sap cause curling and drying of the infested tissue. They also damage the crop by secreting a sweet sticky substance which encourages the development of the fungus Maliola mangiferae, commonly known as sooty mould which affects adversely the photosynthetic activities of the leaves. Shade and high humidity conditions are favorable for their multiplication. Such conditions usually prevail in old, neglected and closely planted orchards. The female hoppers lay 100-200 eggs on mid rib of tender leaves, buds and inflorescence. In summers the total life cycle occupies 2-3 weeks. 

Controls:
(i) Chemical: 
   Three sprays of 0.15 per cent Carbaryl or 0.04 per cent Monocrotophos or 0.05 per cent Phosphomidon or 0.05 per cent Methyl Parathion have been found very useful in controlling the pest population. First spray should be given at the early stage of panicle formation. The second spray at full length stage of panicles but before full bloom and the third spray after the fruits are set and have attained pea stage are recommended. Spraying of Nimbicidine (0.2 %) is effective at initial stage of hoppers management. Chemical spray is to be minimized whenever necessary. The use of insect growth regulator Buprofezin (0.0125 %) is also suggested as one of the sprays.
(ii) Biological: 
  Biological control agents such as the predators Mallada boninensis and Chrysopa lacciperda, the egg parasite Polynema sp. and a preparation of the fungus Beauveria bassiana are the important useful bio-agents to control this pest.
(iii) Integrated Pest Management (IPM):
   The continuous use of pesticides though control the pests but pose some other serious problems like killing of pollinators and natural enemies, development of resistance to insecticides and residues which are on fruits hazardous to human population. Besides, the high cost of pesticides, labor and maintenance of equipments are other limiting factors in pest control. Integrated pest management is gaining momentum to take care of these problems. To manage mango hopper pest, avoid dense planting and keep the orchard clean by regular ploughing and removal of weeds. Pruning of overcrowding and over lapping branches should be done on a regular basis. Nymph predators Mallada boninensis and Chrysopa lacciperda and egg parasite Polynema sp., Gonatocerus sp. and Tetrastichus sp. are found effective in nature against the hoppers. A fungus, Verticillium lacanihas also been found effective against this pest but under moderate climate.

Mealy bug: (Drosicha mangiferae)
Image result for mango mealy bug
    Green is the most common mealy bug and causes severe damage to mango crop throughout the country. Nymphs and adults suck the plant sap and reduce the vigor of the plant. Excessive and continuous draining of plant sap causes wilting and finally drying of infested tissue. They also secrete honey dew, a sticky substance, which encourages the development of a fungus Maliola mangiferae, termed as sooty mould. The adult male is winged and small, female is bigger and wingless. The female, after copulation, crawl down the tree in the month of April-May and enter in the cracks in the soil for laying eggs in large numbers encased in white egg sacs. The eggs lie in diapause state in the soil till the return of the favorable conditions in the month of November – December. Just after hatching, the minute newly hatched pink to brown colored nymphs crawl up the tree. After climbing up the tree they start sucking the sap of tender plant parts. They are considered more important because they infest the crop during the flowering season and if the control measures are not taken timely, the crop may be destroyed completely.

Controls:
(i) Mechanical:
     Polythene (400 gauge) bands of 25 cm width fastened around the tree trunk have been found effective barrier to stop the ascent of nymphs to the trees. The band should be fastened well in advance before the hatching of eggs, i.e., around November – December.
(ii) Chemical:
    Application of 250 g per tree of Methyl Parathion dust 2 per cent or Aldrin dust 10 per cent in the soil around the trunk kills the newly hatched nymphs which come in contact with the chemical. Spraying of 0.05 per cent Monocrotophos or 0.2 per cent Carbaryl or 0.05 per cent Methyl Parathion have been found useful in controlling early instar nymphs of the mealy bug.
(iii) Biological
   Menochilus sexmaculatus, Rodolia fumida and Sumnius renardi are important predators in controlling the nymphs. The entomogenous fungus Beauveria bassiana is found to be an effective bio-agent in controlling the nymphs of the mealy bug.
(iv) Integrated Pest Management (IPM):
   The IPM schedule of mealy bug is very important and useful if timely operations are done. Flooding of orchards with water in the month of October kills the eggs. Ploughing the orchards in the month of November exposes the eggs to the sun’s heat. In the middle of December, 400 gauge alkathene sheet of 25 cm width may be fastened to the tree trunk besides raking the soil around the tree trunk and mixing of 2 per cent Methyl Parathion dust. The dust may also be sprinkled below the atkathene band on the tree. The congregated nymphs below the band may be killed by any of the suggested insecticides. The above IPM schedule holds promise to control the mealy bug but the spores of the fungus Beauveria bassiana will further ensure the reduction of the pest population.

Fruitfly:
Image result for mango fruit fly
    The oriental fruitfly is one of the most serious pests of mango in the country which has created problem in the export of fresh fruits. Bactrocera dorsalis, B. zonatus and B. correctus are the most common fruitflies which cause serious damage to mature mango fruits. The adult flies are dark brown in color and measure 7 mm in length and 4 mm across the wings. The females have tapering abdomen which ends in an ovipositor. The female punctures the outer wall of the mature fruits with the help of its pointed ovipositor and insert eggs in small clusters inside the mesocarp of mature fruits. After hatching, the larva feeds on the pulp of the fruit which appears normal from outside, but drops down finally. The mature maggots fall down into the soil for pupation. The emergence of fruitfly starts from March onwards and the maximum population is recorded during April-May which coincides with fruit maturity. The population declines slowly from June to July after which it is non-existent up to March.

Controls:
(i) Chemical:
   The adult fruitflies can be controlled by bait sprays of carbaryl (0.2%) + protein hydrolysate (0.1%) or molasses starting at pre-oviposition stage (first week of April), repeated once after 21 days. Another method to control these flies is to hang traps containing a 100 ml water emulsion of methyl euginol (0.1%) + Malathion (0.1%) during fruiting (April to May). About 10 such traps are sufficient for one hectare of orchard.
(ii) Integrated pest management (IPM):
    Collection and proper disposal of the infested and dropped fruits. Ploughing the orchards and exposing the diapausing pupae to sun’s heat. Releasing of parasite and predator during December to February are helpful in reducing the pest population. Monitoring and destruction of emerging adult with methyl euginol traps. Early harvesting of mature fruits.
Selective and need based bait spray. Hot water treatment or vapor heat treatment (VHT) of fruits before storage and ripening for killing the larvae.

Scale insects:
Related image
    Scale insects are considered serious pest on mango in certain parts of the country. Pulvinaria polygonataAspidiatus destructorCeroplastis sp. and Rastococus sp. are some of the most common scale insects infesting mango crop. The nymphs and adult scales suck the sap of the leaves and other tender parts and reduce the vigor of the plants. They also secrete honeydew which encourages the development of sooty mould on leaves and other tender parts of the mango plant. In case of severe scale infestation, growth and fruit bearing capacity of the tree is affected adversely.

Control:
     Pruning of the heavily infested plant parts and their immediate destruction followed by two sprays of Monocrotophos (0.04 %) or Diazinon (0.04 %) or Dimethoate (0.06 %) at an interval of 20 days have been found very effective in controlling the scale population.

Shoot borer (Chlumetia transversa) :
Image result for mango shoot borer 

        Larvae of this moth bore into the young shoot resulting in dropping of leaves and wilting of shoots. Larvae also bore into the inflorescence stalk. The adult moths are shining grey in color and measure about 17.5 mm with expanded wings. Hind wings are light in color. Female moths lay eggs on tender leaves. After hatching, young larvae enter the midrib of leaves and then enter into young shoots through the growing points by tunneling downwards. The full grown larva is dark pink in color with dirty spots and measures about 22 mm in length. There are four overlapping generations of the pest in a year and it overwinters in pupal stage.

Control:
      The attacked shoots may be clipped off and destroyed. Spraying of Carbaryl (0.2%) or Quinalphos (0.05%) or Monocrotophos (0.04%) at fortnightly intervals from the commencement of new flush gives effective control of the pest. A total of 2-3 sprays may be done depending on the intensity of infestation.

Stem borer (Batocera rufomaculata):
       Stem borer attacks a variety of fruit trees including mango. Damage is caused by the grub of this beetle as it feeds inside the stems boring upward resulting in drying of branches and in severe cases attained stem also dies. Adult beetles, 35-50 mm in size, are stout and grayish brown in color with dark brown and black spots. Eggs are laid either in the slits of tree trunk or in the cavities in main branches and stems covered with a viscous fluid. Full grown grubs are cream colored with dark brown head and 90 x 20 mm in size. Pupation takes place within the stem. Beetle emerges in July-August. There is only one generation of the pest in a year.

Control:
     The pest can be effectively controlled by following the recommendations given for the control of bark eating caterpillar.

Stone weevil (Sternochetus mangiferae):
    This insect is widely distributed in the tropics. Female lays eggs on the epicarp of partially developed fruits or under the rind of ripening fruits. Newly emerged grubs bore through the pulp, feed on seed coat and later cause damage to cotyledons. Pupation takes place inside the seed. Discoloration of the pulp adjacent to the affected portion has been observed. Eggs are minute and white in color. Adult weevils are 5 to 8 mm long, stout and dark brown in color. Life-cycle is completed in 40 to 50 days. Adults hibernate until the next fruiting season. There is only one generation in a year.

Controls:
      Destroying the affected fruits and exposing the hibernating weevils by digging the soil
Spraying the trees with Fenthion (0.01%)

Disorders
Mango malformation: 
        The malformed panicles remain unproductive and are characterized by a compact mass of male flowers, greenish in color and stunted in growth. The main and secondary rachis are thick and short and bear flowers with relatively larger bracts, sepals and petals as compared to normal flowers. The malformed panicles remain intact on the trees for a considerable period. Though research efforts made have not been able to ascertain its etiology, the complexity of the disorder is attributed cultural practices, nutritional, to many factors like, mites, fungal, viral, etc. hormonal imbalance. The exact cause and control of the malady is yet to be established. However, some remedial measures are recommended as follows:
Pruning of shoots bearing malformed panicles Deblossoming of early emerged / infested panicles.

Biennial bearing:
            The term biennial, alternate or irregular bearing generally signifies the tendency of mango trees to bear a heavy crop in one year (On year) and very little or no crop in the succeeding year (Off year). Most of the commercial varieties in thePhilippines biennial bearers. When a tree produces heavy crop in one season, it gets exhausted nutritionally and is unable to put forth new flush thereby failing to yield in the following season. The problem has been attributed to the causes like genetical, physiological, environmental and nutritional factors. For overcoming biennial bearing, deblossoming is recommended to reduce the crop load in the “On year” such that it is balanced in the “Off year”. Proper maintenance of orchard by way of effectively controlling pests and diseases and regular cultural operations may also result in better performance of the tree every year. Soil application of Paclobutrazol (PP333) or @ 4 – 5 g per tree in the month of September resulted in early flowering with higher fruit set and yield. It may be applied every year for regular fruiting, particularly in young trees. The time of application may vary according to fruit bud differentiation.

Fruit drop:
   Despite high fruit set initially, the ultimate retention is quite low in mango. The intensity of fruit drop, varies from variety to variety. The fruit drop is more or less a continuous process and can be classified into three groups: (i) Pinhead drop, (ii) Post-setting drop and (iii) March-month drop. Fruit drop in the first two groups are insignificant compared to the third group which affects the final yield significantly and needs more attention. Embryo abortion, climatic factors, disturbed water relation, lack of nutrition, disease, pest and hormonal imbalances are the major factors that lead to fruit drop. The foliar application of Alary (B-nine) @ 100 ppm or NAA 20 ppm at pea stage of fruit was found effective in controlling fruit drop in mango.

Clustering disorder in mango:
     A fruiting disorder is characterized by the development of fruitlets in clusters at the tip of the panicles. Such fruits do not grow beyond pea or marble stage and drop down after a month or so of fruit set. These fruits do not contain seeds when they are cut open. The disorder seems to be due to lack of pollination / fertilization which may be attributed to many reasons. Among them, absence of sufficient population of pollinators in the orchards is the major reason. The other reasons causing the disorder are old and overcrowding of trees, indiscriminate spraying against pests and diseases, use of synthetic pyrethroids for spraying, and bad weather during flowering.
Some of the remedial measures are suggested below:
  • Insecticides should not be sprayed at full bloom to avoid killing of pollinators.
  • Pests and diseases should be controlled in time by spraying the recommended pesticides only. Introduction of beehives in the orchards during flowering season for increasing the number of pollinators.
  • Pruning of old trees may be done to open the canopy.
  • Spraying of 300 ppm NAA may be done

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Tomato Diseases

Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) can be grown on almost any moderately well-drained soil type. A good supply of organic matter can increase yield and reduce production problems. Tomatoes and related vegetables, such as potatoes, peppers and eggplants, should not be planted on the same land more than once in three years. Ideally, any cover crop or crop preceding tomatoes should be members of the grass family. Corn, an excellent rotation crop with tomatoes, supplies large amounts of organic matter and does not promote the growth of disease organisms that attack tomatoes. Certified seeds and plants are recommended and should be used whenever possible.

Bacterial Wilt

Bacterial wilt or Southern bacterial blight is a serious disease caused by Ralstonia solanacearum (formerly Pseudomonas solanacearum). This bacterium survives in the soil for extended periods and enters the roots through wounds made by transplanting, cultivation or insects and through natural wounds where secondary roots emerge.

Disease development is favored by high temperatures and high moisture. The bacteria multiply rapidly inside the water-conducting tissue of the plant, filling it with slime. This results in a rapid wilt of the plant, while the leaves stay green. If an infected stem is cut crosswise, it will look brown and tiny drops of yellowish ooze may be visible.

Prevention & Treatment: Control of bacterial wilt of plants grown in infested soil is difficult. Rotation with non-susceptible plants, such as corn, beans and cabbage, for at least three years provides some control. Do not use pepper, eggplant, potato, sunflower or cosmos in this rotation. Remove and destroy all infected plant material. Plant only certified disease-free plants. The cultivar Kewalo is partially resistant to bacterial wilt, but is an uncommon cultivar. Chemical control is not available for this disease.

Early Blight

This disease is caused by the fungi Alternaria tomatophila and A. solani and is first observed on the plants as small, brown lesions mostly on the older foliage. Spots enlarge and concentric rings in a bull’s-eye pattern may be seen in the center of the diseased area. Tissue surrounding the spots may turn yellow. If high temperature and humidity occur at this time, much of the foliage is killed. Lesions on the stems are similar to those on leaves and sometimes girdle the plant if they occur near the soil line (collar rot). On the fruits, lesions attain considerable size, usually involving nearly the entire fruit. Concentric rings are also present on the fruit. Infected fruit frequently drops.

Early blight (Alternaria solani) on tomato foliage.

The fungus survives on infected debris in the soil, on seed, on volunteer tomato plants and other solanaceous hosts, such as Irish potato, eggplant, and black nightshade.

Prevention & Treatment: Use resistant or tolerant tomato cultivars. Use pathogen-free seed and do not set diseased plants in the field. Use crop rotation, eradicate weeds and volunteer tomato plants, space plants to not touch, mulch plants, fertilize properly, don’t wet tomato plants with irrigation water, and keep the plants growing vigorously. Trim off and dispose of infected lower branches and leaves.

If disease is severe enough to warrant chemical control, select one of the following fungicides: mancozeb (very good); chlorothalonil or copper fungicides (good). Follow the directions on the label. See Table 1 for examples of fungicide products for home garden use. See Table 2 for tomato cultivars with resistance or tolerance to early blight.

Late Blight

Late blight is a potentially serious disease of potato and tomato, caused by the fungus Phytophthora infestans. Late blight is especially damaging during cool, wet weather. The fungus can affect all plant parts. Young leaf lesions are small and appear as dark, water-soaked spots. These leaf spots will quickly enlarge and a white mold will appear at the margins of the affected area on the lower surface of leaves. Complete defoliation (browning and shriveling of leaves and stems) can occur within 14 days from the first symptoms. Infected tomato fruits develop shiny, dark or olive-colored lesions, which may cover large areas. Fungal spores are spread between plants and gardens by rain and wind. A combination of daytime temperatures in the upper 70s °F with high humidity is ideal for infection.

Prevention & Treatment: The following guidelines should be followed to minimize late blight problems:

  • Keep foliage dry. Locate your garden where it will receive morning sun.
  • Allow extra room between the plants, and avoid overhead watering, especially late in the day.
  • Purchase certified disease-free seeds and plants.
  • Destroy volunteer tomato and potato plants and nightshade family weeds, which may harbor the fungus.
  • Do not compost rotten, store-bought potatoes.
  • Pull out and destroy diseased plants.
  • If disease is severe enough to warrant chemical control, select one of the following fungicides: chlorothalonil (very good); copper fungicide, or mancozeb (good). See Table 1 for examples of fungicide products for home garden use. Follow the directions on the label.
  • Plant resistant cultivars. See Table 3 for tomato cultivars with resistance to late blight.

Septoria Leaf Spot

This destructive disease of tomato foliage, petioles and stems (fruit is not infected) is caused by the fungus Septorialycopersici. Infection usually occurs on the lower leaves near the ground, after plants begin to set fruit. Numerous small, circular spots with dark borders surrounding a beige-colored center appear on the older leaves. Tiny black specks, which are spore-producing bodies, can be seen in the center of the spots. Severely spotted leaves turn yellow, die and fall off the plant. The fungus is most active when temperatures range from 68 to 77° F, the humidity is high, and rainfall or over-head irrigation wets the plants. Defoliation weakens the plant, reduces the size and quality of the fruit, and exposes the fruit to sunscald (see below). The fungus is not soil-borne, but can overwinter on crop residue from previous crops, decaying vegetation and some wild hosts related to tomato.

Septoria leaf spot (Septoria lycopersici) on tomato.

Prevention & Treatment: Currently grown tomato cultivars are susceptible to Septoria leaf spot. Crop rotation of 3 years and sanitation (removal of crop debris) will reduce the amount of inoculum. Do not use over-head irrigation. Repeated fungicide applications with chlorothalonil (very good) or copper fungicide, or mancozeb (good) will keep the disease in check. See Table 1 for examples of fungicide products for home garden use.

Leaf Mold

The fungus Passalora fulva causes leaf mold. It is first observed on older leaves near the soil where air movement is poor and humidity is high. The initial symptoms are pale green or yellowish spots on the upper leaf surface, which enlarge and turn a distinctive yellow.

Leaf mold (Passalora fulva) on tomato foliage.

Under humid conditions the spots on the lower leaf surfaces become covered with a gray, velvety
growth of the spores produced by the fungus. When infection is severe, the spots coalesce, and the foliage is killed. Occasionally, the fungus attacks stems, blossoms and fruits. Green and mature fruit can have a black, leathery rot on the stem end.

Leaf mold (Passalora fulva) on lower leaf surface.
The fungus survives on crop residue and in the soil. Spores are spread by rain, wind or tools. Seeds can be contaminated. The fungus is dependent on high relative humidity and high temperature for disease development.

Prevention & Treatment: Crop residue should be removed from the field. Staking and pruning to increase air circulation helps to control the disease. Avoid wetting leaves when watering. Rotate with vegetables other than tomatoes. Using a preventative fungicide program with chlorothalonil, mancozeb or copper fungicide, can control the disease. See Table 1 for fungicide products for home garden use.

Bacterial Spot

This disease is caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas vesicatoria, which attacks green but not red tomatoes. Peppers are also attacked. The disease is more prevalent during wet seasons. Damage to the plants includes leaf and fruit spots, which result in reduced yields, defoliation and sun- scalded fruit. The symptoms consist of numerous small, angular to irregular, water-soaked spots on the leaves and slightly raised to scabby spots on the fruits. The leaf spots may have a yellow halo. The centers dry out and frequently tear.

Bacterial Spot (Xanthomonas vesicatoria) symptoms on tomato leaves.
The bacteria survive the winter on volunteer tomato plants and on infected plant debris. Moist weather is conducive to disease development. Most outbreaks of the disease can be traced back to heavy rainstorms that occurred in the area. Infection of leaves occurs through natural openings. Infection of fruits must occur through insect punctures or other mechanical injury.

Bacterial spot is difficult to control once it appears in the field. Any water movement from one leaf or plant to another, such as splashing rain drops, overhead irrigation, and touching or handling wet plants, may spread the bacteria from diseased to healthy plants.

Prevention & Treatment: Only use certified disease-free seed and plants. Avoid areas that were planted with peppers or tomatoes during the previous year. Avoid overhead watering by using drip or furrow irrigation. Remove all diseased plant material. Prune plants to promote air circulation. Spraying with a copper fungicide will give fairly good control the bacterial disease. Follow the instructions on the label. See Table 1 for fungicide products for home garden use.

Buckeye Rot

Buckeye rot is a disease of the fruit caused by the fungus Phytophthora parasitica. The first fruit symptoms appear as brownish spots, often at the point of contact between the fruit and the soil. As the spots enlarge, dark, concentric rings can be seen. Lesions of buckeye rot resemble those of late blight, except that the former remain firm and smooth, whereas late blight lesions become rough and are slightly sunken at the margins. Under moist conditions, a white, cottony fungal growth appears on the buckeye rot lesions. With time, the entire fruit will rot. The fungus does not affect the foliage. The disease is most common during periods of prolonged warm, wet weather and in poorly drained soils. The fungus survives in the soil and is spread by surface water and rain. Peppers are also susceptible to this disease.

Prevention & Treatment: Avoid compacted, poorly drained soils (grow plants in raised beds). Rotation, sanitation, staking and mulching will help reduce the disease. Fungicide sprays with chlorothalonil, mancozeb, or copper fungicides will give fairly good control of buckeye rot. See Table 1 for examples of fungicide products for home garden use.

Anthracnose

Anthracnose on tomatoes is caused by the fungus Colletotrichum coccoides, which is primarily a pathogen of the tomato fruit. As the fruit are ripening, the symptoms first become noticeable as small, circular indented areas, which later develop darkened centers. The diseased spots continue to grow larger with time as each infection site also spreads deeper into the fruit. With warm, moist and humid weather (from rainfall or over-head irrigation) the fungus produces salmon-colored spores that are exuded from the black fungal material in the center of the spots. These spores are spread by splashing water.

Anthracnose (Colletotrichum coccoides) on tomato fruit.

Prevention & Treatment: Purchase disease free seed, as the fungus that causes anthracnose of tomato may be within the seed. Tomato seed may be treated by soaking them in hot water (122 ºF) for 25 minutes to destroy the fungus. Some varieties of tomatoes have resistance to anthracnose, such as Chef’s Choice Orange Hybrid.

Do not over-head irrigate tomatoes, as splashing water aids in the spread of fungal spores. Plant the garden in a sunny site and stake or cage tomato plants to provide better air movement and leaf drying conditions. Keep the garden weed free, as the presence of weeds may raise humidity levels around plants and slow drying conditions.

Because this disease affects other plants in the tomato family (Solanaceae), such as eggplants and peppers, the site for the tomatoes should not be planted again with solanaceous plants for at least a year. Some weeds that infest the garden are also in the same family, which is another reason to keep the garden free of weeds. Fungal spores can remain in the soil to infect plants the following year. Mulching the garden helps create a barrier between the soil surface and the fruit to reduce infections.

Some insects feed on ripe fruit, such as leaf-footed plant bugs and stink bugs. Their feeding punctures the skin of the fruit and allows the fungus to infect. Harvest tomato fruit daily as soon as they are ripe. Remove and destroy crop debris as soon as the crop has finished bearing. Do not add debris to compost.

Fungicide sprays can help reduce disease. Products containing chlorothalonil can be sprayed weekly to reduce infection. Follow label directions. There is a one day waiting period between spraying and picking. See Table 1 for examples of products containing this active ingredient.

Fusarium Wilt

This is a warm-weather disease caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum. The first indication of disease in small plants is a drooping and wilting of lower leaves with a loss of green color followed by wilting and death of the plant. Often leaves on only one side of the stem turn golden yellow at first. The stem of wilted plants shows no soft decay, but when cut lengthwise, the lower stem will have a dark brown discoloration of the water-conducting vessels. The fungus is soil-borne and passes upward from the roots into the water-conducting system of the stem. Blocking of the water-conducting vessels is the main reason for wilting. Invasion occurs through wounds in roots growing through infested soil. Long-distance spread is through seed and transplants.

Prevention & Treatment: Control can be obtained by growing plants in pathogen-free soil, using disease-free transplants and growing only cultivars at least resistant to races 1 and 2 of Fusarium wilt (indicated by FF following the tomato cultivar name). Some newer cultivars are resistant to races 1, 2 and 3, and can be found listed in Table 4. Raising the soil pH to 6.5 – 7.0 and using nitrate nitrogen (such as in calcium nitrate) rather than ammoniacal nitrogen (as in 5-10-10, 10-10-10, or 34-0-0) will retard disease development. No chemical control is available.

Southern Blight

The fungus Athrlia rolfsii causes this disease. The first symptom is drooping of leaves suggestive of other wilts. On the stems, a brown, dry rot develops near the soil line. White fungal growth with brown mustard seed-sized sclerotia may be visible. The stem lesion develops rapidly, girdling the stem and resulting in a sudden and permanent wilt of all aboveground parts. Frequently, a white fungal mat covers the lesions. The fungus can also attack fruits where they touch the soil.

The fungus can survive for years in soil and plant debris. It is favored by moist conditions and high temperatures.

Sclerotia and mycelium of (Sclerotium rolfsii) on the base of a tomato plant.

Prevention & Treatment: Crop rotation with non-susceptible grass crops and removal of plant debris immediately after harvest will help to control the disease. Do not plant tomatoes after beans, pepper or eggplant. Calcium nitrate may be applied at transplanting.

Seedling Disease (Damping-off)

The fungi Pythium and Rhizoctonia cause damping-off of tomato seedlings. Seedlings fail to emerge in the greenhouse or small seedlings wilt and die soon after emergence or transplanting. Surviving plants have water-soaked areas on the stem close to the soil line.

Prevention & Treatment: Damping-off is often a problem in plants that are planted too early in the spring. The fungi are more active in cool, wet, rich soils. To prevent damping-off, take these precautions:

  • Start seeds indoors in sterilized potting mix.
  • Do not start seeds in soil that has a high nitrogen level. Add nitrogen fertilizer after the seedlings have produced their first true leaves.
  • Allow the surface of the soil to dry between waterings.

Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV)

TSWV is spread by a tiny insect called thrips, which acquires the virus by feeding on one of many infected weed or ornamental hosts, and then spreads it to the developing tomato plants. Several weeks after transplanting the tomato plants into the garden, random plants may appear stunted, and younger leaves may be marked with bronze or dark spots, or have prominent purple veins. Often the upper foliage will become twisted and cupped as the bronze areas expand. Fruits may have yellow spots. Younger plants may wilt and die, but older plants may survive and bear discolored fruit that may not fully ripen.

Prevention & Treatment: Eliminating weeds in the garden is the first step in reducing the chance of acquiring TSWV. Keeping the grass and weeds mowed in areas surrounding the garden may reduce the spread of thrips onto susceptible garden plants. Weeds in the garden area during the winter may harbor both the thrips and the virus. So, remove the old crop debris, till and mulch the garden for the winter to keep weeds and thrips down for the next year.

TSWV symptoms on tomato foliage.
TSWV symptoms on tomato foliage.
TTSWV symptoms on tomato fruit.
TTSWV symptoms on tomato fruit.
Reflective (aluminum or silver-colored) mulch beneath the tomato plants may reduce the number of thrips that arrive and feed upon the plants. If reflective mulch is not available, paint black plastic mulch silver before transplanting the tomatoes.

There is no cure for a plant with TSWV. Roguing or removing infective plants immediately from the garden may help reduce the incidence of disease on additional plants. However, feeding by thrips can transmit the virus to plants within minutes. Because of this rapid infection time, insecticidal sprays may be of no use for the home gardener.

Seeds of several TSWV-resistant cultivars of tomatoes are available from mail-order seed companies. These cultivars are resistant, but not totally immune. They may acquire the virus, but yields and fruit quality may remain acceptable. Look for cultivars with resistance if this has been a problem in the past. See Table 5 below for recommended TSWV-resistant cultivars.

Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLCV)

TYLCV is not seed-borne, but is transmitted by whiteflies.  This disease is extremely damaging to fruit yield in both tomato and pepper crops. Whiteflies may bring the disease into the garden from infected weeds nearby, such as various nightshades and jimsonweed. After infection, tomato plants may be symptomless for as long as 2 – 3 weeks.

Tomato plant with Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus.
Tomato plant with Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus.
Symptoms in tomato plants are the upward curling of leaves, yellow (chlorotic) leaf margins, smaller leaves than normal, plant stunting, and flower drop. If tomato plants are infected early in their growth, there may be no fruit formed. Infected plants may appear randomly throughout the garden. Pepper plants may also become infected, but will show no symptoms.

Prevention & Treatment: Removal of plants with initial symptoms may slow the spread of the disease. Rogued (pulled out) infected plants should be immediately bagged to prevent the spread of the whiteflies feeding on those plants. Keep weeds controlled within and around the garden site, as these may be alternate hosts for whiteflies. Reflective mulches (aluminum or silver-colored) can be used in the rows to reduce whitefly feeding.

Low concentration sprays of a horticultural oil or canola oil will act as a whitefly repellent, reduce feeding and possibly transmission of the virus. Use a 0.25 to 0.5% oil spray (2 to 4 teaspoons horticultural or canola oil & a few drops of dish soap per gallon of water) weekly. Examples of products containing horticultural oil are Ferti-lome Horticultural Oil Spray and Bonide All Seasons Spray Oil. Example of products containing canola oil is Lilly Miller Vegol Year-round Pesticide Oil Concentrate and Espoma Earth-tone Horticultural Oil Ready to Spray.

At the end of the season, remove all susceptible plants and burn or dispose of them. See Table 6 for tomato cultivars with resistance to Tomato yellow leaf curl virus.

Other Viruses

Different viruses cause different symptoms on tomato. Symptoms of virus infection may appear as light and dark green mottling of the leaves. Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) causes mottling of older leaves and may cause malformation of leaflets, which may become shoestring-like in shape.

Viruses are highly infectious and readily transmitted by any means that introduces even a minute amount of sap from infected into healthy plants.

Prevention & Treatment: There are no chemical controls for viruses. Remove and destroy infected plants promptly. Wash hands thoroughly after smoking (the Tobacco mosaic virus may be present in certain types of tobacco) and before working in the garden. Eliminate weeds in and near the garden. Control insects (thrips and whiteflies) that carry viruses.

Rotate tomatoes with crucifers (such as cabbage, broccoli and turnips). Use reflective mulches. Use virus resistant tomato cultivars. Many cultivars have Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) resistance (the letter T follows the cultivar name), such as: Bush Celebrity, Bush Early Girl, Jetsetter, Big Beef, Celebrity, Sweet Cluster, Sweet Million (cherry), and Super Marzano (paste).

Root-knot Nematodes

Root-knot nematodes (meloidogyne species) are microscopic worms that live in the soil and in plant roots. Affected plants are usually stunted, discolored and may die. Knots or galls develop on the roots.

Galled tomato roots caused by root-knot nematodes (meloidogyne species).
Galled tomato roots caused by root-knot nematodes (meloidogyne species).Prevention & Treatment: When nematodes are not yet present, move the garden location every year, purchase disease-free plants, pull up and dispose of roots immediately after harvest, and use resistant cultivars (indicated by N following tomato cultivar name). See Table 7 for cultivars resistant to root-knot nematodes.

When root-knot nematodes are present, relocate the garden to a nematode-free area. Use nematode resistant tomato cultivars. Establish a rotation system using marigold cultivars Tangerine, Petite Gold or Petite Harmony, which reduce root-knot nematode populations in soils. 

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Container Grown Pomegranate Trees – Tips On Growing A Pomegranate In A Pot

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I like food that you have to work a little at to get to. Crab, artichoke and my personal favorite, pomegranate, are examples of foods that require a little extra effort on your part to get at the delectable interior. Pomegranates are not only delicious but are getting bonus points for their high levels of antioxidants, leading many to try their hands at pomegranate growing. If this includes you, let’s look at caring for pomegranate plants with an emphasis on indoor pomegranate trees in containers.

Pomegranate Growing

Pomegranates (Punica granatum) are steeped in history and have been grown for thousands of years through the Mediterranean regions of Asia, Africa and Europe. Native from Iran to the northern Himalayas, the fruit eventually traveled to Egypt, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, India, Burma and Saudi Arabia. It was introduced to the Americas in the 1500s by Spanish missionaries. A member of the Lythraceae family, pomegranate fruit has a smooth, leathery, red to pink skin surrounding the edible arils. These arils are the edible part of the fruit and are its seeds surrounded by sweet, juicy pulp. The seeds can also be used for planting. Pomegranate trees are grown not only for their juicy, tempting fruit, but also make attractive ornamental specimens with orange-red blossoms prior to fruiting, set off upon glossy, deciduous green leaves. Trees usually have thorns, and are grown as a bushy shrub. That being said, pomegranates can be trained as a small tree ideal when growing a pomegranate in a pot.

How to Grow Pomegranate Trees in Containers

Pomegranates thrive in areas of warm, arid conditions. While not all of us reside in such climactic regions, the good news is that growing a pomegranate in a pot is entirely possible. Pomegranate trees in containers can either be grown indoors given sufficient arid provisions or outdoors during part of the year and moved indoors if cold snaps are imminent. Pomegranates are self-pollinating, so you only need one to set fruit. They are relatively hardy and will bear fruit within the second year. For outdoor or indoor pomegranate trees grown in containers, you will need around a 10-gallon container one-quarter full of potting soil. Set the root ball into the container and begin to fill in around the roots with the soil to the top of the container but not covering the trunk. Water the new tree in well and lightly tamp the soil down to eliminate any air pockets.

Caring for Pomegranate Plants

Pomegranates need full sun. Keep an eye on the weather report and if temps threaten to drop below 40 degrees F. (4 C.), move the plant indoors to a sunny window. Water the tree deeply about once a week, possibly more often during peak summer months. Fertilize the tree with half cup of 10-10-10. Spread the fertilizer atop the soil and two inches away from the trunk. Water the food into the soil. During the first two years of the tree’s growth, feed in November, February, and May, and thereafter fertilize only in November and February. Prune out any crossing branches or shoots to three to five per branch after the tree’s first year. Prune out any dead or damaged limbs in the late winter. Prune out suckers to create a more tree-like appearance. Follow the above tips, and within two years, you’ll have delicious pomegranate fruit of your own that last as long as apples (up to seven months!) in cool, dry conditions.

Pruning
Pruning is necessary to give and maintain desired shape of your pomegranate tree and encourage flowering and fruiting. Pruning it best done after all danger of frost has passed when the tree is about to start growing.

Prune off weak, dead and undesirable branches to direct tree’s energy to right part and shorten long branches to encourage flowering.

Fertilizer
During the growing season pomegranate tree is fertilized regularly, fertilize after every two week using half strength liquid 8-8-8 fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Pomegranate tree in pot often becomes zinc deficient, which is indicated by yellowing leaves. To overcome this, you can spray diluted zinc solution on foliage.

Application of compost or manure is also beneficial. Take care not to over fertilize it as it can cause the tree to produce lots of foliage and comparatively less flowers

Propagation by seeds
Buy as ripe pomegranate as possible. Separate and clean seeds from the pulp by rubbing them from paper towel, let them dry up for a few days before sowing.

Plant the seeds no more than ¼ inches deep in light seed-starting mix. Place the pots in a bright location, optionally inside a plastic bag or greenhouse that maintains a temperature around 68 F (20 C). Always keep the soil moist. Seeds will germinate within 1 – 6 weeks depending more on the variety and climate.

Propagation by cuttings
Take several 8 to 10 inch-long cuttings. Plant the cutting in a well drained potting mix. It roots easily and quickly at ambient temperature of 20 degrees Celsius and high humidity.

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This Is the Fastest Way to Grow Tomatoes

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The key to this trick is finding side shoots from your existing tomato plant, and to make sure you aren’t cutting from the main stem. Many farmers suggest pruning these shoots, which makes them easier to cut off.

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Once you’ve cut the shoots off, put them in a vase of water. Leave the vase in a sunny spot (like a windowsill) for about a week, and you’ll soon see roots start to grow

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And just like that, your future tomatoes are ready to plant! we suggests giving them extra water and sun protection for the first few days that they’re in your garden. “This will help the plant adjust from water to soil without stunning the growth,” she says

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