Grow Basil with Confidence

Herbs are finding their way into many ornamental operations to help growers diversify their product offerings. One of those herbs is basil, a favorite among growers and consumers as it is well-suited for patio containers or garden transplants.

Basil seedlings in pots.

One of the most popular herbs grown in the greenhouse due to its small size is sweet basil, Ocimum basilicum. Basil has a short production schedule, which aligns nicely with many flowering bedding plants, making it an excellent addition to a greenhouse operation’s product offering.

Which pests affect basil?

Basil is susceptible to a variety of insects and diseases commonly found in ornamental production, such as:

  • Botrytis
  • Pythium SPP. & Rhizoctonia solani
  • Downy mildew
  • Leaf spots
  • Aphids
  • Whiteflies
  • Worms

Downy mildew is one of the most serious diseases that can take over a basil crop. It can develop when temperatures are moderately warm and there’s a high relative humidity. Basil plants that are infected with downy mildew will develop blotchy, yellow to reddish areas on the foliage that are restricted between major veins, giving them a banded appearance. These symptoms can be found first in the lower foliage and will gradually advance upward. Fuzzy spores can be seen corresponding to the blotchy areas on the undersides of the affected leaves. These spores can vary from a gray to light purple color, depending on the variety of basil.

Downy mildew along with other diseases can spread rapidly throughout a basil crop if corrective actions are not taken. In addition to fungicide and insecticide treatments, inspecting plants regularly throughout the production cycle will help detect problems early so any corrective actions can be implemented quickly.

How can I prevent diseases like downy mildew?

To produce a healthy basil crop, growers should incorporate good cultural practices such as:

  • Providing adequate spacing to allow good air flow between the plants
  • Irrigating early in the day to decrease the relative humidity in the production area (<75%)
  • Using a preventive fungicide rotation to reduce the chance of disease development

Syngenta has several fungicides registered to help protect basil plants grown for resale, such as Subdue Maxx®, Micora®, Segovis® and Heritage® fungicides. A well-structured program will provide guidance for leveraging strengths and modes of action of different products, so they can provide maximum benefit when needed most.

Discover a basil rotation program for your greenhouse operation today.

All photos are the property of Syngenta or are used with permission.

©2021 Syngenta. Important: Always read and follow label instructions. Some products may not be registered for sale or use in all states or counties and/or may have state-specific use requirements. Please check with your local extension service to ensure registration and proper use. GreenCast®, Heritage®, Micora®, Segovis®, Subdue Maxx® and the Syngenta logo are trademarks of a Syngenta Group Company.

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