Pythium

by Jessica Skidmore, Sustainable Plant Systems major

With the cool, wet summer eastern Ohio has seen so far, farmers are worried about running into a disease that may show up later on, Pythium. It starts with the roots and works its way up through the plant. The disease can live in the ground overwinter and will reproduce in the spring when the conditions are right.

Pythium severity depends on how wet the soil is and for how long. It is also able to reproduce in a wide range of temperatures. Along with having the cool wet weather this year, corn was able to be planted starting mid-April which is early compared to other years and makes the conditions favorable for Pythium. . If the conditions aren’t right then the Pythium does not  reproduce as fast.

The disease is bad for the corn because it can kill the plant in the early growth or can reduce the yields. This can also show up later in the season when farmers think that they are in the ‘clear’ for plant diseases or in need of replanting. When corn is affected by Pythium, the mesocotyl is targeted and affects how well the main root system will grow.

This fungus can be controlled by many different practices. Planting in tilled ground heats up the ground quicker and dries it out more which would lower the chance of the fungus repopulating in the spring. The type of hybrid can also protect the seed for almost two weeks of the fungus being present in the soil.When certain fields are usually wet then they should be well drained to also help control. If fields have had the fungus in the past then they should be checked in the following years when the conditions are right for this fungus to reproduce to ensure another outbreak would not happen.

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

Using Precision Agriculture Tools

by Jared Thomas, Sustainable Systems major

Precision agriculture is a very useful tool for farms or other companies for more efficiency in their operation. In today’s agriculture, it is very important for to be efficient by saving money. This can happen through GPS, Planter upgrades, and Fertilizer application. These advancements go a long way not only to make farming easier and more efficient but also saves time. If a farmer can focus more on the job over worrying about driving then the job is getting done better and faster.  Planter upgrades will help the first crop become even better because of the seed placement, fertilizer placement, and faster planting. Time is money and with faster planting more efficiently then money is saved and so is time. It is a big trickle effect for savings. Crop prices aren’t good so savings anywhere makes life a lot easier for the operator. Fertilizer has many savings when used more efficiently when applied but also helps with the government regulations and the public’s view on farms. Using this type of methods make it look better on farmers in the public’s eye by using precision agriculture equipment to be more efficient.

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

What Is Lurking in Your Soil?

by Keeley Overmyer, Sustainable Plant Systems major

When people think about organisms that make their home in the soil, most people instantly think of earthworms. The pink, slinky worms that actually provide many benefits to the ecosystem that they are a part of. However, have you ever thought about the harmful, yield robbing creatures that are invading the soil?

Soybean cyst nematode, also known as SCN, is just that – a harmful, yield robbing, soil inhabiting organism. SCN is harmful because it feeds on plant roots. Being parasitic, it takes nutrients away from the plant. After feeding, it leaves behind wounds where disease can penetrate.

Soybean cyst nematode was identified on soybean in Ohio in 1987 (Harrison, Niblack, Taylor, Dorrance, Meiring, 2013). In Ohio, it can be found in 68 counties (Harrison, et al 2013). Now, it is the leading cause of soybean yield loss in North America.

Once a field is infected with SCN, it is hard to get rid of. The females become full of eggs and latch onto the roots of the soybean. As time goes on, the females become hardened to form the protective structure, the cysts, around the eggs  The cysts can survive for years in the soil.

So why does this matter? Why do we care about a microscopic roundworm hanging out on the roots of a soybean plant?

The big problem: yield reduction. Yield reduction then plays into several other problems such as decreased profitability for growers and food security. As SCN steals yield from a grower, their profit margin gets smaller and smaller. This not only cuts into their profit, but it will affect their operation for years to come when the SCN population continues to grow.

If the SCN populations continue to build, yields will continue to decrease. Over time, continually decreasing yields could led to a shaky future for food sustainability. High yielding soybeans are important to serve the food and fuel needs of the world.

Next time you’re walking through the field to check crops, think about what may be beneath your feet. More importantly, think about sustainable practices to prevent the buildup of SCN.

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

Food For Thought: Black Rot – Let’s Appreciate Our Veggies

by Malia Musso, Accounting major

The Facts:

Brassica is a family classification of vegetables that includes broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts. Root vegetables are also included in this classification. These vegetables are prone to a plant disease called black rot disease.

According to the Australian Department of Agriculture and Food, a plant’s leaves that have been affected with black rot will appear brownish-yellowish in color, especially around the edges. The disease rots along the outer rims of the leaves creating dips in the edges where the rot occurs, usually in a V-shape. As the veins of the plant are affected, they become black.

The Department of Agriculture also notes that black rot is spread through contact. When the rot comes into contact with an opening on the plant, the plant becomes infected. These plant openings, holes, or tears in the plant’s leaves that leave it vulnerable to the disease are often caused by insects or mechanical damage. However, they are sometimes naturally occurring.

The Issue . . . & Part of a Solution:

Black rot is spread through contact that can occur from irrigation, water contact on different plants, and during transportation of the plants and seeds, notes Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs. It is very hard to control once it has spread, so the emphasis on controlling this disease must lie in initial prevention.

I am fascinated by plant disease prevention because it is almost always the best method to controlling plant diseases. If farmers and growers could master prevention measures, plant disease losses could be minimized. The process of procuring, transporting, planting, and raising crops would have to be so meticulously planned and every step monitored and controlled, but of course, this is not always a sustainable (or realistic) practice. However, honing in on the initial steps of the growing process can prove to be greatly effective. I think that if more people, farmers or not, were educated on the preventative measures and careful planning that it takes to produce foods, there would be a greater appreciation for what we have and are able to produce. Just some food for thought the next time you consume an uninfected brassica at dinnertime . . .

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

Sources

https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/broccoli/diseases-vegetable-brassicas

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/02-025.htm#avoid

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

Consequences of Vomitoxin

By Alec Miller, Sustainable Plant Systems major

Pathogens can cause major concerns all over the world. My hometown had a major problem 4 years ago when the local feed grinding mill used corn that contained t vomitoxin levels that were too high (above acceptable ). The feed wasn’t tested right or not enough. The mill sent the feed out to three different large cattle farms. A couple of days go by then the farmers noticed that their cattle were looking extremely thin and some very ill. At first the farms thought it was just a common illness. Later that morning some cows in the pasture were actually dead. Well the farmers soon got in touch with each other and all three of them received feed that day.  Further testing was taken and the feed contained the corn that had vomitoxin. Lawsuits were filed on this issue and farmers were paid for their treatments and market value of their dead cattle. This hurt the farmer’s pockets and their mental mind set. They had lots of work in the cattle that died. Total 400 cows were ill and 35 were killed. This is an important issue to me because we have local meat markets in the area that all bought from the three farmers. A notice in the meat prices were slightly higher and the meat had to come from different beef farmers.  This problem just really grinds my gears too because it could have been avoided easily. If the mill just took their time and tested the grain properly, there wouldn’t have been an issue in the first place.

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

Mycotoxins and the Economy

by Ethan Dolby, Economics major

Plant diseases can have a large impact on the world from an economic stand point. The impact stems from a variety of different means. First and foremost, plant diseases can lead to a dramatic decrease in crop yields. Farmers all across the world can spend thousands of dollars cultivating crops only to have a large portion of them be discarded. These unusable crops lead to large deficits and food shortages. In order to prevent yield loss due to disease, large sums of money need to be spent on research and implementation. This could range from pesticides to even genetic engineering.

Being an economic major, I wanted to do some research on the plant disease that is causing some of the largest economic losses throughout the country. Although there is some debate on the issue, Mycotoxins are touted as one of the most devastating. Mycotoxins are chemicals that are produced by fungi living on organic matter. These chemicals can be incredibly harmful to the health of humans and animals. In some cases, mycotoxins directly lead to death.

Mycotoxins have impact on several important crops such as corn, wheat, nuts and coffee. According to The Food and Agriculture Organization, nearly twenty five percent of the world’s crops are affected every single year. Annual food losses thanks to mycotoxins reaches close to one billon metric tons. There are varying reports but in terms of money, mycotoxins cost the United States anywhere from one to five billion dollars each year depending on whether or not it is an outbreak year. To put the issue into more perspective, these reports do not include the economic cost associated with human and animal health. This is largely due to the complexity of calculating these factors.

Although several separate toxins fall under the umbrella of Mycotoxins it is astonishing to think of the economic impact of plant diseases. For instance, mycotoxins alone cost billions and there are thousands of other plant diseases. Some may not have a large impact on the economy, perhaps only a million dollars annually or so but when combined, the numbers are staggering.

Bio:

Growing up spelunking, hiking and camping I developed a love for nature and science. Driving a hybrid car and conscientious resource management is how I make sure I am doing my part to help the environment. I initially went to Ohio State to become either a chemical or environmental engineer. Through my classwork however I discovered a love for economics. I love getting the chance to combine two of my passions.

Citation:

David G. Schmale III. “Mycotoxins in Crops: A Threat to Human and Domestic Animal Health.”APSnet. N.p., 2009. Web. 03 June 2017.

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

Organic: A Terrible Idea to Feed the World

by Kyle Harman, Sustainable Plant Systems major

Traditional agriculture can only feed the world for so long. The world’s population is constantly exponentially growing. This means that as more people are born more people will be able to have offspring creating faster and faster growth to each new billion. These people require many resources for life. I want to focus on two that I feel are the most important, housing and food.

Housing

Conventional housing requires space and access to land that is able to be developed. Agricultural plots allow for great access to large amounts of typically flat land. The downside of this practice is that land once in production for crops has now been taken out of the cycle. Less agricultural acreage is available yet the population continues to grow

Food

Today’s crops require more efficiency then crops of the past. Crops must be able to be more tolerant, sustainable, and produce higher yields. A specific example would be corn that once would be considered exceptional at 150 bushels/acre now being pushed to near 300 bushels/acre.

Struggles still exist for food security in our world but going organic is not the answer. Organic food spoils quicker, produces less yield, and costs more to produce. Genetically modified crops are the answer to limit starvation and struggles for food insecurity. As a global community, acceptance of the GMO’s allows for our sustainability.

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

Fairy Rings

fairy rings in turfgrass

Top photo: Lester E. Dickens, Bugwood.org.
Lower photo: William M. Brown Jr., Bugwood.org

by Lexi Dean, Animal Science major

Ever notice those green and brown rings on the turf at a gold course or in your back yard? Those are Fairy Rings. Have no clue what Fairy Rings are? I didn’t either until I did some research.

What are Fairy Rings? Fairy Rings are a type of fungi. There are nearly sixty different species of basidiomycete fungi have been implicated in fairy ring occurrence

Identifying Fairy Rings

-Fairy Rings are those green or brown rings that are often spotted on golf courses and lawns

-Fairy Rings mostly occur during the spring and summer months

-Fairy Rings symptoms may include a ring of mushrooms

  • Fairy Rings work by preventing water from reaching the roots. When water doesn’t reach the roots the plant goes into a drought stress.
  • Fairy Rings are capable of releasing spores into the wind
  • The fungus feeds on organic mater
  • Fertilization may mask dark green fairy rings by stimulating growth in the rest of the grass
  • Mushrooms may or may not develop after a period of heavy rainfall or irrigation
  • Fairy Rings have been deemed the reason why for local dry spots on golf courses
  • Fairy Rings can cause the wilting and death of many plants

Management:

  • Fairy rings are hard to control with fungicides because the soil in the infected area is almost resistant to water
  • Fertilizing the land a lot will help to mask the appearance of the dark green growth
  • Mowing regularly helps remove mushrooms and other signs of Fairy Rings
    • vertical mowing and topdressing to reduce thatch and removal of tree stumps and roots ()
  • Aeration and drenching the soil with a wetting agent
  • Core aerification with the rotation of multiple fungicides may also help
  • Remove the sod infected and replace with new

Works Cited

“Fairy Rings.” Texas Plant Disease Handbook. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 June 2017.  (Content edited by Young Ki Jo, Texas A&M)

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

Barley Yellow Dwarf: It doesn’t just end with wheat

by Joey Conway

Barley yellow dwarf is a disease that affects a vast range of crops in the world. The Barley yellow dwarf virus or BYDV is a pathogen that attacks barley, oats. wheat, corn, and rice. These crop species serve as some of the biggest agricultural contributors to the economy and could industries that use these crops for further refining and manufacturing.

The BYDV is a single-stranded RNA virus that is carried by aphids.  Aphids transmit the virus as they feed on feed on plant leaves. As soon as the virus enters the plant the virus will replicate rapidly. The virus  will show its symptoms very quickly in the from of yellowing or reddening of leaves. The virus will then attack the plant’s growth and hinder yield dramatically.

So what does this mean and what could be the implications? Well to start it would help to look at how far reaching these crops are. To simply look at wheat and its single great influence on our nation, first consider that it is grown in almost every state and the US alone producing over 50 million tons of it each year. Wheat can be seen as the backbone of life as it is seen that 40-60% of calories in an average diet.  Wheat is rich in carbohydrates, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals like iron and calcium.

Now lets take into account how devastating it could be if this disease spread to other crops like rice, oats, and corn. In many less developed countries where wheat is an even larger percentage of someone’s diet. Countries like India and China would suffer greatly as their economy is largely based on rice and wheat development and majority of meals in the countries have a base of rice. This disease could obviously cripple the world, it is a good thing that there is many plant pathologists the world to make sure that these diseases do not take over.

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

I Spot a Leaf Spot

by Sierra Mayle, Animal Sciences major

In the wake of summer, many gardeners and agricultural developers will definitely see what is called leaf spot. Everywhere and common, this is often caused by pathogenic fungi that infect  the leaf and once there, grows and grows until leaf tissue is destroyed.

Depending on the severity the leaf can have smaller dots to the entire leaf being enclosed in this fungi. Now, it is important to note that even though these may be  common but not necessarily fatal diseases, plants and trees that were already under a lot of stress or not healthy to begin with are much more susceptible.

The fungi will cause degeneration  of plant tissues and have the potential to seriously injure if the fungus is not under control. It is difficult to treat once leaf spot have become prominent because with using chemicals on the trees comes the risk of further injuring and lessening the tree’s strength.  More information on control can be found on this website: www.ladybug.uconn.edu/FactSheets/leaf-spot-disease-of-trees-and-shrubs.php

Some trees commonly susceptible are maple, oak, walnut, ash, hickory, and horse chestnut. There are a few different fungi that cause this problem, including anthracnose and leaf blister (affecting oak trees). Anthracnose deals with multiple clusters of this species producing the black or brown spots on the leaves. Leaf blister most commonly affects oak trees in cooler spring weather.

We should always watch for leaf spot.  There are many varieties of plant, trees, and crops this can affect and through hortweek.com, agriculturalists have been warned to watch for this leaf spot fungi on cauliflower, pink or black lesions appearing on the heads.

Even though this fungus may not be severe on any scale it has the potential to weaken and destroy plant tissue, leaving the unknown possibility for anything to happen . . . maybe even a resistance mutation over time with the repeated use of fungicides trying to fight them?

Sources

UConn > Leaf Spot Diseases of Trees and Shrubs

Hortweek.com > www.hortweek.com/alert-high-risk-leaf-spot-predicted-2017/fresh-produce/article/1420948

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Sierra Mayle is a third year student at The Ohio State University, exploring animal sciences and plant pathology. In her spare time she enjoys reading and playing with her three dogs and ferret.

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This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.