By: Amy Grant
Powdery mildew of southern peas is a fairly common issue. Usually, it doesn’t damage early planted peas, but it can destroy a late summer or fall crop. It is important to recognize the symptoms of southern peas with powdery mildew in order to come up with a management plan before the problem becomes too severe. The following article contains southern pea powdery mildew info and suggestions regarding southern pea powdery mildew control.
Powdery mildew affects a litany of other crops. In the case of southern peas with powdery mildew, the fungus Erysiphe polygoni is the culprit. This fungus appears as a tell-tale light grey to almost white powdery growth on the surface of leaves, pods and occasionally the stems of the plant. New plant growth becomes contorted, dwarfed and may yellow and drop. Pods are twisted and stunted. As the disease progresses, the entire plant may turn yellow and defoliate.
Powdery mildew of southern peas is most common on older leaves and stems. The talc-like powdery mildew is made up of spores that are blown by the wind to infect nearby plants. As severe infections defoliate beans, yield reduction is reduced. The pods that do form develop purplish spotting and become distorted, thus unsalable. For commercial growers, this infection can be a huge economic loss.
Powdery mildew reproduces during dry spells, although increased humidity increases the severity of the disease and periods of heavy dew foster infections. Not to be confused with downy mildew, powdery mildew does become severe during periods of low rainfall.
Although the fungus is thought to survive on wild cucurbit and other weeds, no one really knows how it survives between crop seasons.
Spray or dust with sulfur according to the manufacturer’s instructions once an infection of powdery mildew has been observed amongst the southern peas. Apply sulfur at 10- to 14-day intervals. Do not apply when temperatures exceed 90 F. (32 C.) or on young plants.
Otherwise, powdery mildew is best managed through cultural practices. If available, select resistant cultivars for planting. Only plant certified seed that has been treated with a fungicide. Practice crop rotation. Plant southern peas in a well-draining area and only water at the base of the plants.
Post-harvest, remove crop debris that may harbor the fungus and allow it to overwinter.
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Pea plants typically grow faster under artificial light than in natural sun. Artificial light stimulates growth because it is constant your plant can receive artificial light 24 hours a day. Plants only grow when they receive light -- by maximizing the hours of light your pea plants receive, you'll increase the hours they grow each day. Additionally, colored artificial light is more efficient for plant growth. Natural light contains a range of colors, including a lot of yellows and greens. Pea plants, performing photosynthesis through chlorophyll, do not absorb green light. Blue and red ultraviolet light rays are the most useful to plants. Growing lamps with red and blue bulbs, or light filters, increase the proportion of useful UV rays reaching the plant and increase the plant's growth efficiency.
Most pea cultivars will have time to produce a full crop by the end of the growing season if they're sown in July, but if you garden in an area known for early and unpredictable frosts you might choose to confine your summer planting to sugar snap peas or snow peas, which are eaten pod and all while they're still immature.
Another way to enjoy peas in the middle of summer is to try to grow pea shoots. Grow them indoors on a windowsill as long as the outdoor temperature is above 70 F, or sow them outdoors as temperatures begin to cool.
Plant the peas 1/2 inch deep in potting soil in a 2- to 3-inch-deep plastic tray with holes in the bottom for drainage. Space the pea seeds about one inch apart. Water well and keep the soil moist. Harvest the shoots when they have at least two sets of leaves. The plants will continue to grow after cutting, so you should be able to harvest a few times.
Unfortunately, this baking soda mixture works best as a preventative, applied before powdery mildew has a chance to spread on your plant. It is less effective as a cure once the fungus has taken hold. If you know a plant is affected by powdery mildew year after year, as is the case with many monarda, phlox, and lilacs, then spraying early in the season may prevent any occurrence that year. In the first signs of infection on a plant, remove the leaves with powdery mildew, if there aren't too many, and spray the rest of the plant. Spray any susceptible plants located nearby, too.