Soilborne Diseases in Tomato High Tunnels: An Emerging Threat
Contributors:Miller, Sally A.
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Series/Report no.:Ohio State University. CFAES Annual Research Conference. Plant Pathology. 2018
Ohio vegetable producers are increasingly using high tunnels to produce high-value tomatoes as these structures allow for season extension and protection from adverse environmental conditions. The protected environment and lack of crop rotation inside these tunnels leads to the build-up of soilborne pathogens. A yield-limiting soilborne disease complex is present in Ohio high tunnels and includes corky root rot (Pyrenochaeta lycopersici), black dot root rot (Colletotrichum coccodes), Verticillium wilt (Verticillium dahliae), and root knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.). Soilborne diseases are often ignored until they preclude profitable tomato production as they are difficult for farmers to observe and researchers to diagnose. A survey of Ohio high tunnel soils was conducted in 2017-2018 to identify the incidence of these diseases across the state, proactively providing researchers with a better understanding of disease distribution and farmers with improved knowledge of the diseases present on their farms. Soils were collected from 68 tunnels from 34 farms in 17 Ohio counties. Pathogens were detected in soils using PCR-based assays and greenhouse bioassays. The most commonly detected pathogen was C. coccodes, present in 90% of high tunnels and 97% of farms. The next most commonly detected pathogens were P. lycopersici present in 47% of high tunnels and 50% of farms and V. dahliae, present in 46% of high tunnels and 74% of farms. Root knot nematodes were detected in 38% of high tunnels and 50% of farms. This information will aid in prioritizing disease management research and providing farmers with targeted soilborne disease management recommendations.