Ridding root diseases

Ask the Experts - Rooting Infectious Diseases

Joe Lara, director of marketing at BioWorks, discusses root infecting diseases and their impact on plant health and production.

April 21, 2021

Greenhouse Management: Why is it important to combat root infecting diseases early on?

Joe Lara: Root diseases require a lot of attention because when the plants are at a young age and are just getting started, they are very susceptible to diseases. When growers start these plants, they have from thousands and up to millions of dollars invested. If they can’t get that crop going early on, they end up with low yields, poor quality plants and significant setbacks. Because of this, growers are really working hard to advance their approaches to disease control in general, utilizing all the tools available to them with integrated pest management. BioWorks has been a leader in developing these high-quality biological control approaches, with root diseases especially. And we’re focused on helping growers establish the best plant quality early on.

GM: What products would you recommend from BioWorks?

JL: We have a number of products, but the most popular and well-known are the biofungicides under the RootShield brand. We have RootShield and RootShield PLUS+ and they work at the root level to protect the young plants right from the start and over several weeks. An additional product that is also well-known is Cease, which is a beneficial bacterium that works in a similar fashion. It offers biological control protection of young plants, as well as when it’s transplanted up into finished sizes.

GM: How do these solutions attack root infecting diseases?

JL: Under the RootShield brand, we have strains of beneficial fungi that essentially work collaboratively with the plant. What they do is, they populate the plant root system, but not only does it provide a protective shield of microbial growth — which is friendly to the plant roots and inhibits other pathogens from infecting these root tissues — it also provides what we call a collaborative or symbiotic system at the root zone where plants can improve nutrient uptake with these microbes existing in the root zone. So there’s a dual approach going on with these beneficial fungi. It’s a similar mode of action when it comes to Cease as well. These products also make a lot of sense when it comes to utilizing living organisms. They are friendly to plants and provide a lot of additional benefits besides protection against disease pathogens.