Conditions right for blue mold
Posted: Tuesday, July 7, 2015 9:03 pm
BY GINA KINSLOW Glasgow Daily Times
While conditions are favorable for the development of blue mold – a fungus that can damage some crops, especially tobacco – there have been no reports of the disease in Kentucky.
“Any time you have these very wet, very humid conditions, you set yourself up in a perfect environment for disease, especially fungal diseases,” said Chris Schalk, the University of Kentucky agriculture extension agent for Barren County. “Most of the soil is pretty waterlogged right now. There is a lot of tobacco standing in tobacco rows.”
Warding off the development of blue mold could be difficult for producers this season – the outlook hinges on the weather, Schalk said.
Blue mold is a fungal disease that feeds off the plant like a parasite, causing lesions and often eating holes in the leaves. It won’t necessarily kill every plant, but it will destroy the marketability of the crop, Schalk said.
The Barren County Cooperative Extension Service receives updates about the disease from UK extension tobacco specialists.
“Folks need to be vigilant and scout for (the disease),” he said.
It has been several years since blue mold was found in Barren County, Schalk said. Jessie Thomas, manager of Crop Production Services in Horse Cave, believes the last time was 2007 in Temple Hill.
“It has done quite a bit of damage in years past,” Thomas said. “It actually consumes the plant. You will primarily see it on the bottom leaves of the tobacco plant.”
If the disease is found on a plant, it doesn’t necessarily mean the entire patch is affected. Tobacco plants that are growing near the edge of a wooded area, in a low-lying area, or in a field that slopes down to a stream are more likely to develop blue mold, Thomas said.