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Cigar end rot disease in Bananas

Cigar end rot is a disease that can ruin your banana farming venture. It is prevalent in almost all banana growing tracts. It affects the developing fingers which results in the tip ends of the fingers drying up. The ends resemble the greying ash of a cigar. Affected fingers are rejected in the market and hence can result in huge losses. It is therefore important to control the disease before its too late. The fungal disease can also attack ripening banana fruits making a dry rot to develop at the flower ends. During transportation or storage, cigar end rot can progress to the entire fruit. This disease is common when there is high rainfall.

Disease Cycle of Cigar end rot

The pathogen gets into the banana finger through the flower resulting in the formation of a dry rot that spreads to immature banana fingers. Fungal spores/ conidia are spread by air currents and the days mainly occur in the early days of fruit formation. The infection spreads slowly as the fruit develops leading to skin blackening. With time, the tips of the infected fingers are fully covered with a powdery mass of spores. Cigar end rot is common in plantations with excessive shade and high altitude areas with moist conditions.

Common Signs & Symptoms

  • Presence of black necrosis which spreads from the perianth to the tip of immature fingers.
  • Dry rot develops on the pulp of the infected banana fruit. At times, the rot can spread even up to 2 centimeters from the tip of the fingers.
  • The wrinkled necrotic tissue eventually becomes completely covered with the mycelia of the fungi.
  • The entire finger can get rotten especially when the emerging fingers are affected.

Etiology

  • The formed fungal spores are hyaline, oblong to cylindrical. These spores are mostly in small groups.
  • Since they are asexual spores, conidia are borne at the ends of tapering phialides.
  • The dormant mycelia are the primary source of inoculum while air and soil-borne conidia are the secondary sources of inoculum.
    Epidemiology
  • High humidity ranging from 90-92%, high rainfall and low temperatures, and weak plants provide an ideal environment for disease development.

Management of Cigar end Rot Disease

  • Farmers should use healthy and disease-free and resistant plants.
  • Filed sanitation should be maintained at all times. Since the disease is carried by an alternate host, all potential hosts of the fungus should be removed from the banana plantation immediately. Dead, hanging leaves should be removed from the plants to lower the inoculum level.
  • Once the fruits have been formed, the perianth and pistil should be removed immediately. Infected fingers should be removed and destroyed.
  • Enough aeration should be ensured in the plantation by minimizing the overcrowding of the banana plants.
  • Polythene sleeves should be placed over the stems before the fingers emerge.
  • Maturing stems should be constantly bagged.
  • The bunches should be sprayed with copper fungicides to prevent disease formation.
  • To minimize the chances of post-harvest infestation, ripening room and packing stations should be kept clean.

If controlled, cigar end rot can result in huge losses. Over the past few years, the occurrence of the disease has increased simply because farmers are unable to employ proper management techniques. Healthy and disease-resistant varieties are what anyone should consider planting.

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Why More Carbon is Needed in our Soils

Carbon is an important component that should be present in the soil. Human activities can either result in improved carbon storage or loss. Deforestation and decomposition of soil organic matter (SOM) contributes to the reduction of carbon levels in the soil. Deforestation removes the forest canopy increasing the soil temperatures when the ground becomes warmed up. The activity of the microbial decomposer community causes the decomposition of SOM in the absence of continual rates of carbon input. Loss of carbon input has increased Carbon (IV) Oxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere. To maintain the carbon input in the soil, planting fruit trees is an important idea that farmers should put into consideration. Fruit trees not only help in capturing CO2 in the soil but also in keeping soil temperatures at optimum levels.

However, the rate at which a tree stores carbon varies depending on the rate at which the tree grows and how big the tree becomes. Carbon input levels are cause dictated by the capacity of the soil to store moisture, the rate at which water is lost through transpiration, evaporation, runoff,  and the ability of the soil to absorb water. These factors are determined by the proportions of silt, clay, and sand. With the right mixture in the soil structure, there are many pores in the soil. Since soils such as clay soil have micropores, they can store more water compared to sandy soils which have macropores. Apart from surface crust and compaction, soils with a good soil structure tend to hold water longer. The amount of organic matter that breaks down into nutrients and carbon plays an important role in improving the water absorption rate.

How to maintain soil carbon levels

There are many agronomic management practices that farmers can employ to maintain soil carbon levels. These include:

  • Minimizing tillage on the farm.
  • Employing soil health and environmentally friendly farming practices.
  • Promotion of farm forestry by planting fruit trees.
  • adoption of environmental and soil health-friendly farming systems;
  • Planting cover crops especially in farms with fruit trees to minimize water loss through evaporation.
  • Mulching crops with synthetic materials or different forms of crop residues.
  • Minimizing water and soil losses by erosion and surface runoff.
  • Employing organic farming practices. Farmers can apply external organic matter such as biochar, compost, biosolids, manure, and mulch. Biosolids not only provide nutrients to the soil but also promote carbon storage. Extra soil carbon that is stored in the soil helps in capturing more moisture which means that plants will grow strong and healthy. Biowastes reduces the effects of drought on productivity and soil health.
  • Adoption of integrated nutrient management practices to increase soil fertility.

Importance of soil carbon sequestration includes;

  • It helps in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs).
  • It helps in minimizing CO2 emissions.
  • It reduces nutrient losses.
  • It helps in lowering atmospheric temperatures.
  • It improves productivity and soil health.
  • It creates a suitable biotic habitat.
  • It helps in reducing soil erosion
  • It enables and promotes root growth.
  • It promotes water conservation by minimizing water loss through evaporation and runoff.

The agriculture sector can play an important role in reducing emissions of GHGs if suitable measures are adopted. Since soils with a high organic matter have higher carbon dioxide sequestration potential, healthy soils can help in fighting climate change. Farmers should ensure adopt regenerative agriculture to increase biodiversity, enhance ecosystem services, and enrich the soils. Fruit farming not only helps in storing soil carbon but can also be a lifetime venture. If you are planning to venture fruit farming, you should buy seedlings at Oxfarm Ltd.

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How to Identify and Control Leaf Spot In Citrus Fruits

There are two types of pathogen-caused leaf spot diseases, especially on vegetables such as lettuce and tomato and on stone fruit trees. There are those caused by fungus and those caused by bacteria. Various kinds of leaf spots have a similar appearance and effect and can be prevented or treated with the same practices. Members of the Prunus family such as orange, plum, almond, peach, and cherry are prone to bacterial leaf spot. Vegetables such as pepper and lettuce are also affected by bacterial leaf spot. It also infects perennial and annual flowering plants such as purple coneflowers, geraniums, and black-eyed Susan. Fungal leaf spots mainly attack brassicas and other vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and turnip. It also attacks poplar trees and aspen.

Causes and Symptoms of Leaf Spot

Citrus leaf spot is caused by warm temperatures and plenty of moisture. Bacteria may be transmitted to the citrus plants by rain and wind. Warm temperatures and sufficient moisture provide an ideal environment for the growth of the bacteria. The bacteria spread in the soil around the infected citrus plants, in seeds and on garden debris. It also remains in the leaves, stems, and twig cankers of the infected trees. Poor crop vigor also favors disease formation.

There are brown or black water-soaked spots with a yellow halo on the foliage which are uniform in size. Under wet conditions, these spots enlarge and increase in number. When seriously infected, the leaves turn yellow, wither and drop.

Prevention and Control

  1. Prepare orchards using seeds that are free from the disease.
  2. Consider planting varieties that are resistant to citrus leaf spot disease. Grafted plants are mainly resistant to this disease.
  3. Rake up fallen fruits and keep the soil under the tree clean.
  4. Mulch the trees to prevent the disease from splashing onto the leaves and reduce weeds.
  5. Prune your trees to improve air circulation. Lack of air circulation favors the growth of bacteria.
  6. Practice field sanitation by removing the infected parts and debris of the citrus plants and destroy them. This will reduce the spreading of the disease to other trees.

Chemical Control

Although there is no cure for bacterial leaf spots, various preventive, and organic measures can be employed to control the disease. These include:

  • Spray the affected citrus plants with baking soda. However, if applied excessively, baking sodas may burn some leaves.
  • Spraying the affected plants with copper-based fungicides such as copper hydroxide and copper sulfate,  mancozeb, and sulfur sprays at the recommended rates. Apart from killing the leaf spot, organic fungicides also prevent the formation of spores. However, farmers should apply fungicides that are beneficial to insects and non-toxic to honey bees, especially during flowering.
  • Apply manure and fertilizer constantly to maintain good health and crop vigor.

In severe cases, citrus leaf spots may affect the fruits. Farmers should ensure that they employ a consistent spray program to prevent disease development. Poor choice of the seedlings can ruin your citrus fruit farming venture. Non-resistant varieties are prone to the bacterial leaf spot which can reduce the yields greatly. Oxfarm offers high-quality seedlings that are resistant to a wide range of diseases such as citrus leaf spot. When buying seedlings, you should consider buying them at Oxfarm Organic.