Early Season Pythium and Phytophthora Control in Pepper and Tomato Crops

Andy Wyenandt, Specialist in Vegetable Pathology, Rutgers University; wyenandt@aesop.rutgers.edu

With the dry spring we’ve had thus far, it’s easy to forget about Pythium and Phytophthora! The same question always comes up about this time of year when growers begin to start thinking about transplanting their tomato and pepper crops. “What should I do to help prevent Pythium and Phytophthora?”. In years past, the answer was simple, apply mefenoxam (Ridomil Gold SL, Ultra Flourish, 4) or metalaxyl (MetaStar, 4). Problem solved, right? In the past, that answer was right, but with resistance development in Phytophthora (P. capsici) to both mefenoxam and metalaxyl, the correct answer isn’t so simple anymore. It’s important to remember that both chemistries will work very well as long as resistance hasn’t been detected on your farm.

How do you know if you have resistance? The easiest way is to follow efficacy. If the chemistries no longer provide the control they once did, then there is a good chance you have mefenoxam-insensitive Phytophthora populations present on your farm. There are also lab services which test for resistance. Remember, once resistance develops it can linger around for a very long time. Therefore, proper crop rotation and resistance management is critical before resistance has the chance to develop.

Our options for pre-transplant applications include a Ranman (cyazofamid, 21) drench one week before transplanting for Pythium in tomatoes as well as Previcur Flex (propamocarb HCL, 28) for the suppression of Pythium and Phytopthora in tomatoes and peppers. Phosphite fungicides, such as ProPhyt and K-Phite (FRAC code 33) can also be applied as a pre-transplant drench in the greenhouse. Additionally, there are a number of biologicals such as Trichoderma, Streptomyces, and Bacillus products which can also be used in the greenhouse to help suppress soil-borne pathogens. Remember, the biologicals need to be applied without conventional fungicides.

At transplanting applications now include Ranman (cyazofamid, 21) in the transplant water or through drip irrigation for Pythium control. There is a section 2ee for the use of Previcur Flex (propamocarb HCL, 28) + Admire Pro (imidacloprid) in transplanting water for Pythium control. Presidio (fluopicolide, 43) now has a label for drip application for Phytophthora control when conditions are favorable for disease development. Additionally, phosphite fungicides, Pro-Phyt and K-Phite (FRAC code 33) can also be applied through drip irrigation at transplanting to help suppress Phytophthora blight. Unlike in the past, there are a number of good options for early season control of these pathogens, it just takes a little bit more planning ahead of time. For further details on use and crop labeled please refer to the specific fungicide label. Remember the label is the law.