Crop Nutrition Impacts the Incidence of Fusarium Diseases in Vegetable Crops

Crop health drives vegetable crop yield and quality. Having the right balance of nutrients at various growth stages is critical for the crop’s defense against plant pathogens and overall plant health.

The fungal genus Fusarium causes several diseases that can reduce yields and quality and in some cases, even kill the crop. While there are many different pathogenic Fusarium species, some of the most damaging diseases are caused by strains of one species complex, Fusarium oxysporum.

Crop nutrition can impact two resistance mechanisms to reduce the incidence of Fusarium and other common plant pathogenic diseases in vegetable crops:

  • Creating mechanical barriers, such as the strengthening of cell walls
  • The accelerated production of natural defense compounds

Calcium plays an important role in host resistance

Calcium is an essential component in maintaining the cell wall structure of a plant. Poor calcium nutrition can increase the crop susceptibility to fungi that can enter the xylem and dissolve cell walls causing the plant to wilt.

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Calcium is also important to the stability and function of plant membranes. When calcium is deficient, the membrane can leak sugars and amino acids, which can stimulate the infection by pathogens.

Consider your nitrogen source

Studies show that susceptibility to fusarium is much greater in the presence of ammonium nitrogen compared to nitrate nitrogen. A study also found that nitrate-nitrogen inhibits disease development and decreases the effects of fusaric acid – a toxin released by pathogens. This makes it critical to pay attention to your sources of nitrogen.


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Laboratory studies show that nitrate-N suppresses the growth of F. oxysporum spores while ammonium-N enhances spore growth.

Fusarium spp. are favored by acidic soil conditions and soils with higher pH tend to show a decrease in disease severity. Even though the average soil pH along most of the California coast is greater than 7, all ammonium-based nitrogen fertilizers, including ammonium nitrate, create sites of acidity, which increase the risk of Fusarium infection. YaraLiva® Calcium Nitrate does not induce a residual acid reaction in the rhizosphere and thus can help suppress fusarium development.

Last, don’t forget about potassium! Plants that are deficient in potassium have impaired protein synthesis and can accumulate simple N compounds (amides), which are used by invading plant pathogens. Potassium can also prevent disease attacks by promoting the development of thicker outer walls in epidermal cells.

Management Strategies - Remarks

  • Use resistant varieties, containing race-resistance genes, when available.
  • Avoid ammonium fertilizers – nitrate fertilizers can help to reduce diseases
  • Apply calcium fertilizers
  • Remove, bury or compost infected plant waste
  • Crop rotation and cover crops can suppress diseases

YaraLiva® Calcium Nitrate products provide your crop with the right form of nutrients for optimum health and quality.

YaraTera® NITRAKAL™ MAX provides a balanced formulation of nitrate nitrogen, potassium and calcium that are immediately available for uptake by vegetable crops.

Learn more about calcium nitrate for fruits and vegetable crops.


Patricia Dingus
Patricia Dingus
Regional Sales Manager

Central Coastal California

Eddie Muro
Eddie Muro
Sales Agronomist

Central Coastal California