Tuesday, July 24, 2012

High Tunnel Crop Talk Notes July 16, 2012

High Tunnel Crop Talk Notes July 16, 2012

Summary:  We reviewed recommended sanitation practices after a tomato crop is finished to reduce disease in following crops.

Discussion: Dan Egel offers the following suggestions after finishing with a tomato crop in a high tunnel or hoophouse to reduce disease pressure on future tomato crops.
1. If possible, allow three years between tomato crops in the same structure and location.
2. If three years without tomatoes isn't possible, take tomato plants out of the structure.  Compost or bury the plant material. If composting, do not use compost on future solanaceous crops unless the compost has been well-managed so that all portions of the compost reach temperatures high enough to kill plant pathogens.
3. Landscape fabric on the floor of the structure makes it easier to sweep and get plant parts out. After sweeping the fabric could be sprayed down with a disinfectant.
These next two suggestions have potential to reduce disease, but they should be considered more experimental because we don't understand the cost/benefit relationship as well.
4. Close the tunnel up and put clear plastic over bare soil to solarize the soil. It might help to kill pathogens. 
5. Plant a bio-active mustard cover crop and incorporate it into the soil to reduce problems with soilborne diseases. It might be effective against white mold and fusarium crown and root rot.
6. Be aware that some diseases, for instance white mold, could carry over to winter crops, because they have a wide host spectrum. 

Notes by L. Maynard. Please get in touch with corrections or additions, or just post a comment.

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