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There are harmful fungi and harmless fungi, some stick to our plants and even damage them heavily as in the case of Sclerotinia, the fungus that causes Sclerotia. If you do not have a vegetable garden or a thick turf, perhaps the name will not tell you anything but those who have fought with it at least once, know very well that there is no joking. We will discover its characteristics and above all the possible remedies and how to prevent it, which is always the best option.
Sclerotinia: what it is
The term of Sclerotinia does not define a single mushroom but one mushroom family, belonging to the category of Ascomycetes. These are fungi that tend to live at the expense of the plants they attach to, even though they could very well live alone, as a "single", and that's not all, because they cause rot, cancer and other health problems that are not always curable if their presence is noticed late.
To recognize Sclerotinia we must look for a sort of cotton mass that usually thickens near the roots or in the collar of the plants but can also manifest itself in the form of hard black bubbles or balls. It depends on the type of plant it is attacking.
Among the various types of Sclerotinia there is sclerotiorum which attacks the tubers, especially when they are stored in humid environments that are usually found in the house cellars or the handouts. Then there is thetrifoliorum that attacks the peas and the face and the minor sclerotin, naturally small in size, and which attacks salads and tomatoes but also vegetables such as celery and asparagus, or carrots.
These mushroom varieties are the most common, the ones we need to be on our guard against every day if we have a vegetable garden or a large garden. The situation is different for the species that we can define as a bit of a niche such as the ashy, specific fungus that undermines the health of plants of the Dupraceae family, or sclerotin fructigena, enemy of pomaceae, or the Iaxa, morbid mushroom that loves and destroys apricots. Sclerotinia Monilia it should be mentioned not so much because it is widespread but because of the symptoms it causes, such as the withering of flowers, the mummification of fruits or the appearance of cancerous lesions.
Sclerotinia: what vegetables it can affect
This mushroom is typical of the summer: as soon as the weather improves and the temperatures become milder, then it appears and reproduces, especially in environments with a high level of humidity.
From variety to variety, it affects plants that are also very different from each other, passing from beans to salads, from celery to potatoes and all tubers, without neglecting fruit plants, apricot in the first place, as we have just heard. Among the most affected plants and vegetables we find hemp, tomato, zucchini, cauliflower and tubers. And then beans, melon, potatoes, cabbage and lettuce but in this case it does not have the appearance of a cotton ball but that of rigid balls of a very dark color.
We have not mentioned a particular type of Scleorotinia which is the turf homeocarpa, often called dollar spot because it looks like a coin, a dollar and perhaps even a euro or 50 cents. This type of morbid fungus attacks in particular the turf and is capable of really ruining them. How can we recognize it?
Its presence is manifested first of all by a yellowing of the grass surface that gradually expands and forms circular but irregular shapes which then go to cover the entire lawn. A real disgrace for those who have a garden and find their turf destroyed in no time.
Sclerotinia: cures and remedies
The sooner you notice the presence of the fungus, the better and the more you can stem the damage. So let's check with the utmost attention on our vegetables and our plants if by chance any appear cottony molds and white in color, or signs of rot, or even some solid bubbles and very dark in color. Even the sudden wilting of the flowers can be a signal even if it is difficult to recognize because there are many causes in this case.
If we've seen these signs, we need to proceed with one right away decisive pruning. So let's arm ourselves with wire cutters or scissors and proceed to make an oblique cut not before having sterilized the tools used. Let's clean them well even afterwards so as not to spread the disease. Before touching other plants, perhaps healthy, let's clean our hands well. We collect all the parts that we have pruned and eliminate them definitively and safely, burning them.
The problem is that the fungus, even if the plant it attacked disappears, can survive in the ground in full autonomy, and then return to the attack of a new plant that was initially healthy, as soon as a day wetter than the others and therefore more favorable to Sclerotinia. Similarly we must act if instead of the plants, the fungus has attacked bulbs or tubers, you must always remove the diseased parts and burn them.
Sclerotinia: cupric fungicide
If we have to remain in doubt, for fear that the fungus has survived our pruning and therefore remained lurking in the lawn waiting for a new victim. On Amazon we can find a wide range of products of this kind such as this one Copper Fungicide based on Copper oxychloride in packs of 500 grams.
When the attacks of this fungus are already in an advanced state, it is better to opt for another type of treatment, the one based on pesticides you use the active ingredient of propiconazole or iprodioneno. Let's leave ourselves with some anti Sclerotinia tips that can always come in handy when we have to defend our lawn
What to avoid
- too frequent and sparse cuts
- the compacting of the turf
- excessive irrigation and water stress during periods of drought
What to do
- Promote aeration by coring the soil
- Limit and if possible avoid completely the shadow areas
- Fertilize with nitrogen
- Remove the dew from the leaves