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KNOWLEDGE TO GROW by Gail Daniels, Master Gardener - Seeds and plants that resist disease

You may have noticed the descriptions in garden catalogs that contain information about disease resistant or tolerant seeds and plants. If you had problems with vegetable plants suddenly wilting and dying, as I did late in the season last year, you might consider using disease resistant seeds and plants this spring. Two diseases causing plants to wilt are Verticillium Wilt and Fusarium Wilt. Verticillium Wilt affects over 300 plant species. It is a soil-born fungus which enters the plant through the root and spreads up through the stem and trunk. Fusarium Wilt is also a soil-borne fungus that can affect plants at all stages of development.

Some cultivars have multiple disease resistances or maximum protection. The Big Beef Tomato, for instance, resist various types of wilts: Tobacco Mosaic Virus, nematodes and Gray Leaf Spot. Some cultivars resist only one disease, but if that disease is a problem for you, then these plants will be worth their weight in gold! You will also see disease tolerant" which means the plant may still get the disease, but should grow well in spite of having it. ”Disease resistant" means the plant is bred to resist certain diseases.

To find and select disease resistant seeds and plants, you may want to start educating yourself and seed catalogs are a great help. As an example, in Gurney's Seed and Nursery 2012 Spring Catalog, in the upper left hand corner of the tomato pages, there is information and also the "key" to the types of disease resistance to look for. "F" means the seeds or plants are resistant to Fusarium Wilt, "T" means resistant to Tobacco Mosaic Virus, etc. Some seeds have all information with pictures and pricing. Also talk with the experts at local nurseries about what they recommend.

Additional steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of your plants becoming infected:

·        Rotate your garden plants in a minimum of a four-year rotation plan if possible.

·        Fertilize and water plants to keep them healthy and vigorous, especially during hot weather. (Do not over-irrigate, especially early in the season).

·        Remove and destroy infested plant material after harvest.