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How to Mitigate Crop Losses From Fungal And Bacterial Diseases

Posted April 09, 2024 by Bridget Hatfield, Ph.D., Associate Scientist, Microbiologist

1. Understand the Impact of Environmental Factors on Crop Disease

"I'm obsessed with broccoli, carrots, celery, string beans, snap peas, black kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage - I could go on! They used to call me 'rabbit' when I was a kid. I hate mushrooms, though. I apologize to fungi lovers, but this way, there's more for you!"

- Lisa Edelstein

Many fungi (and bacteria) love fruits and vegetables too, leading to significant crop losses of 20-40% yearly1. Environmental conditions and weather patterns can significantly influence the ability of pathogens to colonize host plants. If conditions remain optimal for the pathogens, disease will occur.

High humidity is crucial for colonization by both fungal and bacterial pathogens. While individual strains may have various ideal moisture levels, it is much more common to see disease take hold in crops where moisture and humidity levels remain high for prolonged periods of time2. This can be exacerbated by recent changes in climate and rainfall across the globe — an issue growers are dealing with daily.

2. Leverage Weather Patterns and Environmental Knowledge to Manage Crop Diseases

Pathogens thrive in moist environments and at temperatures typically in alignment with spring and summer. When spring and summer are wet with more than average rainfall, there is a greater chance for disease to occur than if spring or summer have a normal amount of rain3. Similarly, if spring or summer are dry, there is usually less disease pressure and occurrence. When fields do not dry out adequately in between rainfall events, a prime opportunity is presented for pathogens to colonize crops and cause disease.  

3. Implement Proactive Strategies for Preserving Crop Health 

Thankfully, weather patterns and fungal and bacterial diseases have been heavily studied and this information can be used to preserve food production. Disease onset can often be predicted; thus, preventative measures can be taken to mitigate heavy colonization and avoid disease occurrence on crops.

One way to prevent disease is to thwart onset using a fungicide or bactericide.

Prevent Disease with Thyme Oil-Based Fungicide-Bactericide: PathoCURBTM

Kemin Crop Technologies recently released a thyme oil-based fungicide-bactericide: PathoCURB.

PathoCURB is a FIFRA 25b exempt biopesticide applied foliarly as a preventative or curative product. Thyme oil is recognized as an effective membrane disruptor with multiple modes of action and the whole oil is more effective than isolated thymol alone4.

How PathoCURB Benefits Growers:

  • A zero-hour re-entry interval (REI)
  • A zero-day pre-harvest interval (PHI)
  • Maximum residue level (MRL) exempt 
  • No phytotoxicity when used as directed
  • Can be safely tank mixed with other Kemin Crop Technologies products, such as TetraCURB™ MAX and AlliCURB™ MAX, for easy incorporation into an effective integrated pest management (IPM) program.

Demonstrated Effectiveness on Fungal and Bacterial Diseases

Multiple trials show that PathoCURB™ effectively combats fungal diseases including grey mold, powdery mildew, and fungal wilt, among others, and bacterial diseases such as fire blight and bacterial spot.

PathoCURB Incidence Pertentage
Apple Powdery Mildew

In this study, PathoCURB was effective at controlling apple powdery mildew at levels equivalent to (0.5% rate) or better (1.0% rate) than the standard organic program, with incidence and severity being >60% at end of season. As such, PathoCURB indicates excellent disease control even at a high powdery mildew disease pressure.

PathoCURB Foliar Severity

In another study, PathoCURB™ was found to provide excellent control of Botrytis on peonies. When applied early and in a program, PathoCURB™ treated plants remained similar to uninoculated controls, significantly outperforming the grower standard for Botrytis control on peonies and resulting in greater salability.

Take a Closer Look at PathoCURB’s Success in the Field


  1. Ayaz M, Li CH, Ali Q, Zhao W, Chi YK, Shafiq M, Ali F, Yu XY, Yu Q, Zhao JT, Yu JW, Qi RD, Huang WK. Bacterial and Fungal Biocontrol Agents for Plant Disease Protection: Journey from Lab to Field, Current Status, Challenges, and Global Perspectives. Molecules. 2023 Sep 21;28(18):6735. doi: 10.3390/molecules28186735.
  2. Velásquez AC, Castroverde CDM, He SY. Plant-Pathogen Warfare under Changing Climate Conditions. Curr Biol. 2018 May 21;28(10):R619-R634. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.03.054.
  3. The Weather and Plant Diseases. Report on Plant Disease. University of Illinois Extension. 1989 Sep; RPD No. 1003.
  4. Ben Jabeur M, Somai-Jemmali L, Hamada W. Thyme essential oil as an alternative mechanism: biofungicide-causing sensitivity of Mycosphaerella graminicola. J Appl Microbiol. 2017 Apr;122(4):932-939. doi: 10.1111/jam.13408.

Bridget Hatfield
Bridget Hatfield, Ph.D., Associate Scientist, Microbiologist

Bridget is a research scientist in Kemin Crop Technologies with over 10 years of experience working in Plant Pathology, Microbiology, and Genetics with a passion for aiding sustainable crop protection and nutrition.