New Soil Amendment Product
Helps NC Grower Manage Pythium

Simply put, pythium, whether in the greenhouse or in the field, is a pain the backside for tobacco growers throughout North Carolina.

Gibsonville, NC grower Doug Hinton is no exception, at least not until last year.

After talking with a neighbor, who has used a new soil amendment product, Quick-Sol, for the past few years, Hinton tested the product in the field on corn, soybeans, wheat and tobacco. He also sprayed 6-10 ounces of the product every week in his tobacco greenhouses.

Because of a number of issues, primarily weather, I can’t say one way or the another, whether Quick-Sol helped us in the field, but there is no doubt this product performed well in our tobacco greenhouses, Hinton stresses.

“For the first time, since we built our tobacco greenhouses, we had no disease problems, either from pythium or other diseases. The only significant thing we did different from previous years was to treat our greenhouses every week with Quick-Sol, Hinton explains.

Pythium is a constant problem for us, in growing greenhouse tobacco plants. By the time you see symptoms of it in your greenhouse, your tobacco transplants have stopped growing. If you don’t do anything it can take your whole greenhouse out. If you spray it with Terramaster, you may control the pythium, but it burns the roots back, which sets you back a week or so.

The problem is compounded, if you push the plants with extra fertilizer, you tend to take weaker plants to the field, and that’s not good. Plus, pythium damage in the greenhouse often causes black spots on the plant, and these are ideal sources of entry for other diseases in the field, Hinton says.

The NC grower did not include the high cost of curative fungicides in managing pythium in tobacco greenhouses. Some treatments can cost nearly $2,000 per treatment per 300-foot long greenhouses.

Steve Speros, who is sales manager for Marion, NC-based Soil and Plant Technology, the company that markets Quick-Sol in the Southeast, says healthier, disease-free tobacco transplants is an almost universal benefit of using Quick-Sol.

“Since we began working with the produce, with growers six years ago, we have seen some spectacular results in bringing damaged plants back to a healthy life. More importantly, we have seen a consistent lack of disease problems in tobacco greenhouses treated with Quick-Sol,” Speros contends.

One explanation is that Quick-Sol, when mixed with water and applied to crops, breaks down in part into monosilicic acid. The inorganic form of silicon is taken up by plants. The tiny grow cups in which tobacco transplants are grown have a very small amount of soil in them, and are almost always devoid of silicon.

We know from years of research conducted by scientists around the world that silicon2 is directly related to control of a number of fungal diseases. However, pythium is not a true fungi. Pythium is a genus of parasitic oomycotes, which were formerly classified as fungi.

By spraying low volumes of Quick-Sol weekly in tobacco greenhouse, or on sweet or Irish potato seed pieces, the product provides the silicon needed to help the plant fight off pythium infection, Speros explains. Tissue analysis in a number of crops treated with the product have shown elevated levels of other micronutrients linked to good plant health.

The results for Hinton have been impressive, including, he says, having extra tobacco plants. Typically, he explains, he has to buy extra plants to compensate for those he lost to disease. Last year, he notes, he had at least an extra five acres of transplants left over, after transplanting his tobacco fields.

1 https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/pp/notes/Tobacco/tdin008/Tb08Pythium.html

2 http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0034-737X2015000300323