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How Much Rain is Too Much?

Submitted By Rick Thomason

According to our local weatherman, we are more than 12 inches above normal in rainfall for this time of year which makes 2019 one of the wettest on record for the first half of the year. Depending on your location, you may have even received more rainfall than your neighbor just a few miles down the road.

To a home gardener, rain is generally a welcome blessing. Wet weather and plants are usually a match made in heaven. However, sometimes there can be too much of a good thing. Excessive rain on plants can cause plenty of trouble in your garden and landscape plants.

Overly wet weather causes diseases which are caused by long term moisture on the foliage and root systems of the plants. These wet conditions are ideal for the growth of fungal and bacterial diseases on the plants.

If your area has just been hit by storms like the ones we experienced all around Johnson County and the surrounding area last week, you might be wondering what are the effects of wet weather on my garden?

Excessive rain on plants promotes disease often evidenced in the plants being stunted, spots developing on the leaves, decay of the leaves, stems or fruit, wilting and, in severe cases, death of the entire plant. I’ve spoken with several home gardeners over the past couple of weeks and they report that their gardens are just sitting there and not growing like they should. This is no doubt due to the wet conditions we’ve experienced over the past month.

Extreme wet weather also keeps pollinators from working in your garden which will affect the amount of fruit that will set on the plants leading to less production of fruits and vegetables from your garden this year. When I was a youngster, the old timers used to always say that, “Dry weather will scare you to death, but Wet weather will starve you to death.”

If your plants exhibit some of the symptoms mentioned above, it may be too late to save them. However, by monitoring and early recognition, you may be able to avert disaster due to the excessive rain on plants and the resulting diseases that plague them.

As with most things, the best defense is a good offense, meaning prevention is the key to disease management during rainy seasons.

·Sanitation is the number one cultural technique to manage or prevent disease. Remove and burn any diseased leaves or fruit from not only the tree or plant, but from the surrounding ground as well.

· Select cultivars that are resistant to disease and situate them on high ground to prevent root rot.

· Disease spreads easily from plant to plant when leaves are wet, so avoid pruning or harvesting until the foliage has dried off.

·Prune and stake the plants to improve aeration and increase dry time after heavy rainfall or dewy mornings.

· Improve soil drainage if it is lacking and plant in raised beds or mounds.

· Remove any infected plant parts as soon as you see them. Remember to sanitize the pruners before moving on to other plants so you don’t spread the disease. Then either bag and dispose or burn infected leaves and other plant parts.
a fungicide may be applied either prior to or early in the development of disease. It’s important to note that fungicides will not cure the disease, but it will help to keep the disease from spreading.

Hopefully, it will dry up soon and your garden plants will recover and produce you a bountiful harvest this year.