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Start clean, stay clean key to protect against myco

With current conditions conducive to accelerating the spread of mycosphaerella (myco) in cucumbers, growers are being urged to take particular care when cleaning and disinfecting glasshouses both during harvest and between crops.

With current conditions conducive to accelerating the spread of mycosphaerella (myco) in cucumbers, growers are being urged to take particular care when cleaning and disinfecting glasshouses both during harvest and between crops.

Although, a time consuming task, experts advise that it is a key step in the reduction of myco spores and thus the disease establishment.

The disease spores can attack any part of the cucumber, damaging the plant and petioles, making the fruit unsaleable or even killing it entirely.

Derek Hargreaves, Technical Officer at the Cucumber Growers’ Association says, “The problem of myco in cucumber crops increases when temperatures are high, as myco and bacterial activity also rises accelerating the breakdown of fruit; it’s likely to be a huge problem over the coming months,” he warns.

“To start clean, I would definitely encourage spraying the floor with a disinfectant. Jet 5 is extremely good at reducing the numbers of myco spores; the levels of infection drop significantly after application and it helps remove the threat.”

Derek urges growers to disinfect as a matter of course, not just as part of the end of season ‘spring clean’. “If you can see the floor at any point in the year, apply Jet 5,” he says.

Alan Horgan, Certis’ Technical Officer, advocates that Jet 5 (peroxyacetic acid and hydrogen peroxide) is ideal for use in an Integrated Hygiene Management strategy. “It’s a powerful and reliable contact disinfectant that breaks down into CO2 and water, so there are no residues left on hard surfaces.

“It’s recognised as a food grade sanitiser, with a short persistence, and is extremely user friendly, particularly in protected edible crops.”

Explaining the potential for myco to have devastating consequences, Derek Hargreaves explains that the fungus penetrates the plant tissue and releases new spores at a fairly fast rate. “Myco produces perithecia, which are no bigger than the size of a pin head. Each individual perithecium releases 200,000-300,000 spores throughout its lifecycle, and a single decomposing cucumber fruit can carry several thousand perithecia.

“Disease is always easier to manage when you haven’t got it. Once myco gets inside the glasshouse and begins to build up, it becomes more difficult to control and will only get worse,” he notes. “It is important to thoroughly clean the glasshouse at each turnaround, and then apply a disinfectant to ensure the process is successful.

“Although this process can take some hours to complete and can be labour intensive – unless you use air fog equipment - it is time well spent to ensure that crops come into a clean and disease free environment. Start clean and stay clean,” he concludes.