Predicting Future Solanaceous Crop Disease Risk Using Disease History

Past disease presence can indicate a risk for the same disease this year. Many pathogens overwinter on infected plant material or as pathogen survival structures. Poor sanitation practices can lead to an increased risk of these diseases in the upcoming season. In addition, pathogens can be introduced via transplants or seeds.  A record of solanaceous crop diseases (tomato, pepper, eggplant, and potato) samples submitted to University of Kentucky Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratories from 2016-2020 are displayed here. The most common diseases of tomato were leaf spots (Septoria, early blight, leaf mold, Botrytis, Phoma, powdery mildew, target spot, Rhizoctonia, Colletotrichum, Cercospora, Gray) and root and/or crown rot (Pythium, Rhizoctonia, Fusarium, black root rot, black dot root rot) (Figure 1). In peppers, the most common diseases were root, stem, and/or crown rot (Pythium, Rhizoctonia, Fusarium) and bacterial spot (Figure 2).  

Figure 1: A summary of typical tomato disease samples submitted to UK Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratories from 2016-2020 (click on image to enlarge).
Figure 2: A summary of typical pepper disease samples submitted to UK Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratories from 2016-2020 (click on image to enlarge).

Assessment of diseases likely to occur during the growing season provides the opportunity to utilize preventative management measures. The University of Kentucky Plant Pathology Department provides numerous publications with additional information and management options for these diseases. County Extension agents also provide information on disease diagnosis and management.


  • UK Department of Plant Pathology Vegetable Extension Publications (Link)
  • UK Kentucky Plant Disease Facebook Page (Link)
  • An IPM Scouting Guide for Common Pests of Solanaceous Crops in Kentucky (ID-172)
  • Bacterial Canker of Tomato (PPFS-VG-06)
  • Bacterial Spot of Pepper & Tomato (PPFS-VG-17)
  • Damping-off of Vegetables and Herbaceous Ornamentals (PPFS-GEN-3)
  • Early Blight & Septoria Leaf Spot of Tomato Disease Management for Commercial Growers (PPFS-VG-25)
  • Home Vegetable Gardening (ID-128)
  • Powdery Mildew (PPFS-GEN-02)
  • Root-knot Nematode in Commercial & Residential Crops (PPFS-GEN-10)
  • Southern Blight (PPFS-GEN-16
  • Sustainable Disease Management of Solanaceous Crops in the Home Garden (PPFS-VG-21)
  • Tomato Wilt Problems (PPFS-VG-15)
  • Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers (ID-36)  

By Kim Leonberger, Plant Pathology Extension Associate and Nicole Gauthier, Plant Pathology Extension Specialist

Posted in Vegetables
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