Curling leaves and wilting branches are early symptoms of this fungal disease, which clogs the vascular system of infected plants and inhibits the flow of water and nutrients. Cut the stem of an infected plant near the base, and you?ll find that the stem interior is brown in color. In vegetable plants the disease progresses rapidly. Leaves turn yellow, then brown, and drop off; plants may succumb in just a few weeks.
In woody plants, such as trees, fusarium wilt may be present for years before the diseased plant dies. The fungus can survive in the soil for many years, and multiple strains have proven resistant to fungicides. Verticillium wilt causes similar symptoms.
Prevention and Control
- Seek out fusarium-resistant crop varieties such as Big Beef tomato and Jubilee watermelon. In seed catalog listings, the symbol (F) after the variety name indicates that a variety has shown resistance to fusarium wilt.
- Keep plants healthy by providing proper watering, fertilizing, and care. Healthy plants are less susceptible.
- Remove infected plants from the garden and destroy or deeply bury them.
- If feasible, solarize the soil in your garden by covering it with clear plastic for several weeks. This can help to kill fusarium fungi in the soil.
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