Bacterial Wilt Control: How to Identify and Get Rid of Bacterial Wilts

For both fruits and vegetables, regardless if they are in the home garden or commercial plantations, bacterial wilt is a serious disease with symptoms that are apparent on the leaves. Depending on the severity of the infection, however, it can affect the other parts of the host plant as well. Severe losses can emanate in certain crops, which is why it is important to learn how to effectively deal with this condition in the absence of having to resort to toxic solutions.

What Is Bacterial Wilt?

The main cause of this disease is Ralstonia solanacearum. It is a bacterium that is common in soil. It can transfer to other plants through weeds and crop residues from the previous harvest. Rainwater and irrigation are also common culprits in the spread of bacterial wilt to other plants. If the plantation is downhill, there is a higher risk of easily spreading the bacteria. Root contact is another common method for spreading the disease.

The time of infection to the expression of the symptoms will take a few days or weeks. The point of inoculation and the age of the host are some of the factors that will dictate how quick the damages will be evident. It will be quick in plants that are still succulent. If the plant already has wounds, it will also be more susceptible to bacterial wilt as it will have a lesser defense against the disease. If the plant is affected by stem and root-knot nematode, there is also a higher chance that the host plant will suffer from bacterial wilt.

Bacterial Wilt on Squash

Rainwater and Irrigation are Common Culprits in the Spread of Bacterial Wilt

Identifying Bacterial Wilt’s Damage

Host Plants

One of the important things to note about bacterial wilt is that it affects a wide array of plants, most of which are from the Solanaceae family. It affects plants in more than 33 families and across 200 species. The potato family is the most susceptible. Melon and cucumber are particularly` susceptible to the disease. Other common host plants include tomato, custard apple, and eggfruits.


Unsure if your plants or crops are already suffering from bacterial wilt? The following are some of the most common symptoms that you should watch out for:

  • The appearance of white, sticky, and slimy ooze is one of the most common indications that the plant has bacterial wilt. It can appear on the surface of tubers and vegetables. You can also see it when you cut a small opening on the stem of a plant suffering from an infection.
  • The leaves of the plant will also suffer from discoloration. It will turn yellowish or dark yellow. It can also hang vertically from the branch. In severe cases, the plant will end up suffering from defoliation.
  • Wilting is also an obvious symptom of this disease. The progression of wilting will vary from one plant to another. It will be most rapid in the case of melon and cucumber. It will start from the bottom part of the vine and will spread to the entire part. In the case of large trees, wilting can take as much as two years.

Results of Infestation

Cosmetic damage is the most common effect of bacterial wilt in its host plants. While most of these damages are apparent on the leaves, it is not restricted to such as you can also see problems in the other parts of the plant, such as the stems and the fruits. In cases of severe infestation, there will be devastating financial losses, especially for muskmelons and cucumbers. Commercial growers might end up suffering from loss of profit if the problem is not given immediate attention.

Bacterial Wilt

Cosmetic Damage is the Most Common Effect of Bacterial Wilt

How to Get Rid of Bacterial Wilts

Natural and Organic Solutions

Below are some of the best solutions for preventing and treating bacterial wilt without the need to use toxic chemicals:

  • One of the best solutions is the intelligent choice of the plants to grow. Learn about the cultivars that can resist the pathogen. Make sure that the plant does not carry the pathogen when you decide to grow it. Purchase seeds and seedlings only from reputable sellers, which will provide you with the confidence that they are free from disease. Even the soil should be free from pathogens that can be possible carriers of bacterial wilt.
  • Crop rotation is another simple solution to the problem. As much as possible, do not plant in the same spot for two years. This is especially the case for tomatoes and potatoes. By planting other crops, they will be more resistant to the disease.
  • It is also important to know how you can deal with cucumber beetle. The latter is one of the major garden pests that cause bacterial wilt. Make sure that they will not feed on susceptible plants. From exclusion methods to the use of natural sprays, there are many ways to make sure that these beetles will not infect your plants.
  • If there are plants that are already showing obvious signs of bacterial wilt, uproot them as soon as possible. By doing this, you are preventing the disease from spreading to the healthy plants.
  • Maintaining the optimal health of the plant is another thing that will help as a preventive measure. When it is healthy, it will be less susceptible to pathogens. Plus, minor infections will be easy for the plant to overcome because of its incredible defense against the most common diseases.

Chemical Solutions

While the use of chemicals can help in controlling a wide array of plant diseases, this should be the last resort. This is because of the toxic ingredients that you will find in the most common commercial pesticides. They can be harmful for the pets and humans. Especially when you use them in fruits and vegetables, there is a tendency that the latter can also be hazardous because of the remnants of the active ingredients from the pesticides.

When it comes to chemical treatments for bacterial wilt, two of the most common active ingredients are chloropicrin and methyl bromide. They are effective for chemicals for soil application.

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