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Verticillium Wilt

Verticillium Wilt
Verticillium wilt is a soil-borne fungal disease which enters plant via their roots. It can affect many fruit, vegetables and ornamental plants and causes leaves to wilt and dieback. It can infect approx. 300+ plant species.

Some crops which can be affected include tomatoes, aubergines, potatoes, courgettes, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, and strawberries. The disease acts by travelling through the roots and affecting the tissue responsible for conducting water, placing the plant under a great deal of stress.

Some forms of the disease can act quickly, however some infections may take time to show any symptoms at all. Once plants/soil are infected there is no fungicide available, making preventative precautions that more important.

Verticillium wilt can occur all year round, however it is most common from spring through to late summer/autumn where the weather (should be!) drier.

Symptoms of verticillium wilt vary between crops, some general symptoms include:

  • Discolouring, Yellowing and shrivelling of leaves. Verticillium wilt will affect primarily lower leaves first.
  • Stunted and/or distorted growth of plants. This will lead to lower yields.
  • Brown streaks run through stem tissue.
  • Plants will suddenly wilt especially in hotter spells of weather. However, plants may recover in cooler, wetter conditions.

How to prevent/control an infection

There are currently no chemicals treatments available to treat verticillium wilt. However, there are steps we can take as gardeners to prevent infection.

  • Plant varieties which show natural resistance to infection. Customer favourites include Tomato Ferline F1 and Tomato Mountain Magic F1.
  • Practice good garden hygiene. The fungus can be spread via contaminated soil. If verticillium wilt is suspected, be careful not to spread infected soil to other parts of the garden. Wash down tools thoroughly.
  • Regular removal of weeds from your growing space. Some weeds can host the disease without showing any symptoms.
  • Any infected crops should be disposed of but not composted.
  • Incorporating the use of green manures or other cover crops into the soil prior to planting can be an effective way of preventing verticillium wilt.
  • Ensure your soil had good drainage and maintains high (but not excessive) levels of nutrients.

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