USDA grant received to explore greenhouse vegetable soilborne disease control

By Brad Bergefurd, Extension Horticulture Specialist

In 1994 the Piketon Research & Extension Center began high tunnel research on tomato and berry crops. Since that time over 3,000 high tunnels have been adopted by fruit and vegetable growers as a way to extend the harvest season. However, continuous cropping of high tunnels with specialty crops is resulting in reduced yields and quality of tomato crops. Partnering with Dr. Sally Miller of the OSU/OARDC Plant Pathology Department and her Vegetable Pathology Lab, USDA funding was received in 2016 to conduct on-farm research that explores soil-borne disease control methods.

Partnering with the Zimmerman family who owns Spring Valley Farm in Cynthiana, Ohio, this on-farm research trial was established in 2016 to conduct research and outreach programs to reduce the impact of soilborne diseases on production of locally grown, high-value vegetable crops. Two disease management strategies, anaerobic soil disinfestation and grafting, are being  optimized for Ohio farms and farmers are being educated on these technologies through specially designed workshops and trainings. Data being collected form this study is being used to develop a new soil diagnostic testing service to identify key soilborne diseases.