Campus News

Plant pathologist expects increased rainfall to impact plant disease

Jean Williams-Woodward, Extension plant pathologist with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences department of plant pathology, was quoted in a recent Greenhouse Product News article about the impact of increased rainfall on plant disease.

“Outdoor growing conditions are continually changing and can change very quickly,” said Williams-Woodward, speaking specifically to ornamental plants that are often grown outside.

“Outdoor growers don’t have a lot of options to control these changes. There can be excessive high and low temperatures, excessive precipitation, early freezes in the fall and late freezes in the spring.”

Recent years have seen larger and more frequent rainfalls in the Southeast, which Williams-Woodward says could impact ornamental growing.

“Saturated substrates will lead to increased root diseases,” Williams-Woodward said. “There are also cases of extreme substrate saturation followed by severe drought conditions – going from too wet to too dry. This can lead to increased plant death because the roots are damaged during high moisture saturation.”

Williams-Woodward warns that as changing weather patterns continue to impact the region, growers should be on the lookout for disease indicators such as root rot.

“The sooner growers can identify early disease symptoms, the better the chance of controlling the disease,” Williams-Woodward said.