The Q&A Archives: Fusarium in Basil

Question: I am a commercial basil grower and last summer I had a fusarium problem with my crop. I have narrowed down the reasons I came by the fungus to moist conditions in the spring, not rotating the basil the second year and the reason that I am almost certain of is that we received fusarium infected seed. Is this possible and what can I do this year, other than moving the basil plot to a different location, to keep the fungus from attacking again? Also, would the fusarium hurt squash if I planted them in the old basil plot? I really need all the space I can get to plant produce. Help. Andy Watson Cambridge, WI

Answer: Short of chemically fumigating your soil and killing everything else along with the fusarium, I'm sorry to say there is no guaranteed way of getting rid of fusarium this year. If you are sure it is fusarium that killed your basil, you won't be able to plant it in that plot of ground again for a very long time (some strains of the fungus can live well over a decade). The good news is that fusarium strains are host specific. I know of no strain that attacks squash, although cucumber and watermelons are host to their own strains. This year, plant certified disease-free basil seed, and research with your seed supplier or extension office (ph# 608-266-4271) any resistant varieties, as well. Planting resistant varieties breaks the cycle eventually.Also, moisture management and the use of organic methods, which promote a diverse community of soil life, create a competitive environment that can help check the proliferation of any single organism.

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