Fusarium Wilt is a common and deadly plant-based disease, and treating fusarium should be your utmost priority if you love your plants and see the first sign of it. It is a particularly dangerous disease, mostly due to its stubborn and resilient properties, and its ability to infect a wide variety of plants. Fusarium is also not just a singular pathogen, rather it is an entire species of deadly pathogens that have different types, infecting anything and everything that come their way.
The pathogen that causes fusarium wilt is called Fusarium oxysporum, and it is a highly versatile pathogen with the capacity to infect everything, making it a priority for you to treat fusarium as soon as humanly possible. This pathogen can infect a wide variety of plants, irrespective of their ages. The most susceptible hosts are tomatoes, tobacco, legumes, cucurbits, sweet potatoes and bananas, but it can also affect other plants, even when they demonstrate some level of resistance to them. It thrives in warmer temperatures, which makes most of the year round except winters an ideal breeding ground. It feeds on dead and decaying organic matter, making dry leaves and other easily available organic matter in the soil perfect food for itself. Given the right temperature, food and conditions, fusarium can destroy plants and ruin crops, causing tremendous damage.
How does it spread?
Fusarium is mostly soil-based. It requires warm temperatures, the presence of organic matter as food, and moist soil to thrive, Additionally, it can also thrive better in more acidic soil. Soil conditions, therefore, are the most important factor in its spread.
The spread starts from the tip of the roots, slowly making its way into the plant. It travels through the root cortex into the xylem, where it stays and produces spores. The spores block the vascular vessels of the plants, preventing them from transporting nutrients. Eventually, the plant transpires more than it can support as no nutrients reach the leaves, because of which the leaf dies and the pathogen invades the tissue, looking for more hosts.
What is even more dangerous about fusarium is that it can live indefinitely in the soil, even if it does not have access to any host plants. As it is present in the soil, removing fusarium is a lot more difficult than removing other plant illnesses. It can also be spread through infected seeds, making it more dangerous, but it is rarely airborne. Removing the affected plant does not guarantee the removal of the pathogen itself. Such infectious and resilient properties can make fusarium treatment an absolute necessity.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms are easy to detect due to obvious decoloration and wilting. The infected plant will show all signs of wilting, along with chlorosis (lack of chlorophyll that turns the plant’s leaf to yellow, pale yellow, or white) and necrosis (death of plant tissue). The plant’s growth is heavily stunted and results in leaf drops, the vascular system turning brown and vascular wilt. The leaf drop happens progressively from the base, moving upwards as more and more of the vascular vessels are blocked.
Fusarium affects a lot of economically important plants, and hence can be difficult on people who grow crops for a living. A massive outbreak can have devastating consequences for agricultural economies, which is why treatment is an absolute necessity. It has also shown signs of infecting crops that were earlier assumed to be more resilient to the disease, causing major concern.
Soil fungicides are one of the primary ways of destroying fusarium, but the right treatment can only be applied after determining the type of fusarium present at the site. Planting resistant varieties of plants and crops can also make it easier to eradicate the disease. Crop rotation is generally ineffective, as fusarium survives in the soil for an overly long duration. Instead cleaning seeds, and removing plant tissues at the first sign of infection can somewhat keep the disease in control.