Extension and Growers Collaborate to Fight Leaf Blight
The last five years have been challenging for onion growers in New York State, as a fungus has caused premature leaf death on onions in the field.
More than 75% of growers in the state have been affected by Stemphylium leaf blight (SLB), an old disease which has re-emerged and become prevalent after an increase in fungicide resistance according to Cornell. Growers began calling Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) specialists for support, after noticing leaf rot and smaller bulbs.
Christy Hoepting, extension vegetable specialist with CCE, immediately responded to growers’ concerns and realized the symptoms sounded like SLB. She sent grower samples to senior extension associates Sarah Pethybridge and Frank Hay, who grew samples to test fungicides.
Matt Mortellaro, onion farmer and co-owner of G. Mortellaro & Sons in Elba, New York, said how important the support from CCE has been to his farm.
“Christy and her colleagues have been instrumental in helping us determine what concentrations are still effective,” Mortellaro told CALS.
Growers statewide have been creating guidelines for fungicide rotation and strategic application to attack SLB. Meanwhile, researchers are working to develop genetic and molecular markers and tools to more quickly detect fungicide resistance in the future.
Learn more about the efforts to combat Stemphylium leaf blight in the onion industry in CALS online news.