Gardening indeed requires a lot of efforts starting from planting, maintaining and harvesting. Not to mention when there are plant disease outbreaks. Diseases that commonly attack the plants are botrytis rots, powdery mildews, Rhizoctonia rots, anthracnose, downy mildew, etc.
Among those diseases, downy mold is the one that frequently brings so much harm in agriculture. Plants infected by this disease will undergo growth deficiency. Eventually the infected plants will not bloom or produce fruits. It certainly becomes a yield loss.
Definition of Downy Mildew
The cause of plant disease is mostly due to fungi. But the one causing downy mildew is not merely fungi but any kinds of oomycete microorganisms that act like obligate parasites. They are from the Peronosporaceae family.
In essence, oomycete causing downy mold is a fungus-like microorganism. Principally this microorganism cannot continue its cycle life without attaching itself to the plants. This microorganism taking advantage of the life host sustainability to keep them alive.
If they cannot find a suitable host to live, they cannot reproduce. But if they find a compatible host to support their nutrition and reproduction requirements, then they will preserve the host life. People call oomycete causing downy mold as an obligate parasite.
Symptoms of Downy Mildew
When you notice there is an angular yellow spot on the surface of leaves, you can conclude that it is downy mildew. Well, this spot happens in the early stage of symptoms. The next stage, the infected area will turn brown and spread quickly.
You can see that the underside of the leaves seem water soaked. But if you take a look closely at the surface, you will find molds in purple brown color. To get an exact picture of the small spores, you need a hand lens.
This disease tends to spread rapidly on cool nights which offers long dew periods. Once the disease spreads all over the leaf surface, it causes damage toward the leaf tissue. It doesn’t affect the patioles or stems though.
Downy Mildew Control
Actually, downy mold attacks not only food crops but also the ornamental plants. They affect any kinds of varieties that gradually decrease the quality of crops to the extent that the flowers cannot bloom or the fruit cannot grow.
In that case, you need to take fast action to prevent that microorganism from infecting the other varieties in your garden. Once you find downy mold symptoms you have to give proper treatment to get rid of the existing downy mold that has already infected some of plants.
However, killing them all is out of question. Thing you can do is control their growth in order not to expand to other plants. So, it is better to prevent them from contaminating your plants from the very start.
Treat the Existing Downy Mold Disease
The attack of downy mold definitely will cause so much loss in agriculture. Therefore, you have to decide the right way to get rid of these microorganisms before they destroy the whole plants in your garden.
1. Neem Oil
As everybody knows neem oil indeed brings many advantages in gardening. One of the advantages is its function as a defense. It works best to counter the downy mold in its early stage.
In their early stage where the oomycete microbes start to form colonies on the back side of the leaf. Although neem oil cannot kill the microbes that already got into stems, it can effectively prevent them from colonizing. Eventually, the microbe’s expansion will stop right there.
2. Liquid Copper Fungicide
Most farmers who grow commercial crops tend to use downy mildew fungicide to overcome plant diseases outbreaks instantly. The liquid copper fungicide is quite popular in defending the commercial crops.
You have to read the instructions properly before you apply it on the plants. The ideal frequency of using this fungicide is every week or 2 weeks. For some cases, people use it until the downy mold outbreak ends to make sure the plants have completely recovered.
3. Systemic Fungicide
It is possible to use systemic fungicide that protects the plants from the inside. The way it works is by piercing the plant’s tissue and defending it from any kinds of disease. You can spray this fungicide on the plant surface or on the soil.
How to Prevent Downy Mold
Those substances might reduce the growth of downy mold but they cannot guarantee to completely remove the microbes. Thus, you better prevent the disease in advance, even before the downy mold agents come in contact with your plants.
1. Watering Habits
Watering habits indirectly affect the emergence of the downy mildew pathogen. Watering plants potentially cause the area around plants to become a bit damp. The damp place is a nice condition for mildew to grow.
Make sure you water the plants in the early morning. So, your plants have enough time to dry out in the daylight. If you water it in the evening, it enables the mildew to grow. Overwatering is bad for your plant growth.
2. Dissect Damaged Leaves
Once you spot a damage leaf, you can dissect it directly to prevent them from contaminating the healthy leaves. Trimming the parts of plants regularly also provides air good circulation. It enables the plants foliage to dry fast.
3. Control Humidity
If you grow the plants indoors, you have to ensure the humidity and temperature are at a good level. You may provide fans or opening vents to enhance air circulation.
4. Pick Good Varieties
Nowadays there are many varieties that have self-defense toward any kinds of diseases including downy mold. Growing these varieties surely comes in handy. Not to mention the quality of crops that are beyond the ordinary varieties.
5. Keep the Soil Clean
You need to clean the area beneath the plants regularly. The fallen leaves that probably bear contagious disease like downy mold have a big chance to spread spore around the plants. That is why you have to keep the soil around the plants clean.
Those are the important things about downy mildew that frequently attack plants. If you already know how this microorganism infests the plants, you can prepare the right solution to get rid of it. However, prevention is always better than treating the current disease.