Dry conditions help diseases, impact water quality

Dry growing conditions have helped suppress diseases in coastal vegetables and strawberries, with PCAs reporting few treatments for downy mildew and other pathogens.

But as a result of below average rainfall, growers have turned more to well water to germinate crops, and are pumping more groundwater to meet the demand of stepped-up irrigations. As a result, consultants say they are also seeing differences in well water quality.

Spring rains from February to April typically help germinate January plantings, but that wasn’t the case this year, and growers were irrigating a couple months ahead of schedule.

Salinas Valley PCA Calaya says he has been using well water all season long and, as a result, pH levels are a lot higher than usual for this time of year.

“We’re getting pH values we would usually see in September. Usually we would now be between 6.8 and 7.2, but right now we’re getting values of 8.2 to 8.3. So, in sprays we’ve needed to buffer the water a lot more. The crops are making it OK as far as irrigation goes, but we expect bicarbonates to be a little bit higher.”

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