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Growing Mustard as a Biofumigant for Fusarium

Growing Mustard as a Biofumigant for Fusarium

Mustard crop being cut down by a harvester. Photo provided by Cavendish Farms research division.


Fusarium are a large genus of fungi that are present in almost all soils worldwide. Most are harmless saprobes which feed on decaying organisms.

However, Fusarium solani and Fusarium oxysporum are the cause of the root rot and wilt, respectively, that are the primary disease issues of Lisianthus. Fusarium is ubiquitous in most environments, and will affect most growers from time to time. 

Farmer Bailey always recommends drenching your plugs with a biofungicide (Rootshield, Actinovate, PreFence, etc.) or fungicide just before transplant if fusarium is present in your soil. Pull out and destroy affected plants to slow its spread.  

Recently, farmer Melanie Macfarlane at Sweet Spot Farm in Nova Scotia, Canada reached out to us to share a 2015 document created by the Department of Agriculture in New Brunswick, Canada: "Growing Mustard for Biofumigation." 

Mustard is a well understood biofumigant effective against Fusarium and many other soil pests. 

"Biofumigation is the suppression of soil born pests and diseases through the use of plants that produce inhibitory chemicals, also known as secondary metabolites. In most cases these biofumigant plants are chopped and incorporated into the soil so they can release their inhibitory chemicals. Mustard is a well understood biofumigant. Its biofumigation properties have been studied for a number of years and scientists have developed a method to fully use these properties. Mustard and most other plants from the brassica family produce chemicals called “glucosinolates”. When glucosinolates come in contact with water and a family of enzyme myrosinase, contained in plant cells, they are transformed in another group of compounds called “isothiocyanate”. It is these isothiocyanates that give mustard its biofumigation power. Isothiocyanates are also responsible for giving plants from the brassica family their bitter/hot/spicy taste. The isothiocyanate that is produced by mustard is called “Allyl isothiocyanate” (AITC). AITC is a compound that is very similar to the compound that is contained in the commercial fumigant Vapam®."


We have not yet experimented with growing mustard for biofumigation, and eagerly await hearing more from Melanie Macfarlane on her efforts to combat Fusarium at Sweet Spot Farm.  Read the full document Growing Mustard for Biofumigation here. How do you deal with Fusarium and other Lisianthus pests on your farm? Leave us a Comment below to share what works!  

Image provided by Cavendish Farms research division

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1 comment on Growing Mustard as a Biofumigant for Fusarium

  • john prukop
    john prukopSeptember 06, 2023

    what variety of mustard works best to combat fusarium

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