In this article, we examine how to prevent common pests and diseases in ugu, a popular vegetable found in many Nigerian delicacies.
Preventing Common Pests and Diseases in your Vegetable Production
Ugu or pumpkin leaf (Telfairia occidentalis) is one of the most important vegetables to the agriculture industry and economy of Nigeria. This is due to its high demand and consumption rate in various localities. This vegetable is highly valuable especially in urban areas which do not have access to land for planting, and so, resort to purchasing from local markets where these vegetables are sold at high prices.
Farmers of this crop testify to its economic buoyance and how simple and straightforward it is to plant. The harvest too is amazing, a single seed can produce up to a bundle of ugu and 4 large pods – if properly cultivated. However, as with all vegetables, Ugu is quite susceptible to a lot of diseases that can easily hamper your crop and destroy your farms if timely action is not taken. Many of these diseases could be a result of a lack of proper care, maintenance and frequent checkup on your plants. This carelessness could prove costly in terms of sudden yellowing in leaves, stunted growth of pods, wilting of stems or stalks and eventual death of the plant.
Moreover, it is more important to prevent the occurrence of pests and diseases rather than try to deal with them if they occur, because once a pest or disease establishes itself on your crops, there is often very little you can do to control it effectively. This implies that protection begins before the crops are even sown in the soil and as such we shall be focusing on good cultivation practices that help to protect crops against pests and diseases.
Best Farm Practices for Preventing Common Pests and Diseases in Ugu
Considering that maintaining good cultivation culture is key, here are five surefire cultivation tips to prevent infections, diseases and pest infiltration in your Ugu farm.
Improve on soil fertility
The fertility of your soil can either aid in sickness and frailty of your plants which in turn makes them more susceptible to diseases or help your plants thrive to withstand the odds of an attack. Soils can be made more fertile by using appropriate soil, organic fertilizers, consistent watering, nematodes and beneficial worms. Optimal care for your soil is tandem to preventing attacks from pests and diseases to your plants.
Bio-diversity in this aspect refers to planting different types or different varieties together or subsequently. If effectively carried out, bio-diversity is a tried and tested way to reduce the frequency of pests and diseases. It can be done by crop rotation, which eliminates pests and diseases by prolonged periods without their hosts, intercropping (growing different crops next to each other) or variety mixtures (growing different varieties of the same vegetable in the same plot, for example, spinach or greens).
Plant only good quality seeds
The surest way for plants to get infections from diseases is to be grown from low-quality seeds. These seeds are genetically weak and do not have the capacity to withstand even the weakest of diseases. Also, always use new or fresh seeds which are more likely to be virile and less susceptible to diseases.
Use resistant varieties
If you find your Ugu plants are frequently susceptible to certain diseases, you should consider changing the species of seeds you plant. Hybrid ugu seeds are a better alternative. They mature in two months, are drought-resistant and are highly resistant to many diseases.
Carry out Adequate Spacing
Insufficient spacing helps to further increase the spread of diseases from one plant to the other. When ugu plants are too closely spaced, they become even more susceptible to fungal diseases like mildew, grey mould or wilts. It not only increases the airflow through the crop but it enables them to grow and flourish without having to struggle for soil and nutrients. It is advisable to space Ugu plants at about 1 meter apart at a depth of 15-20 centimetres.