Caraway is a great herb to grow in the garden. While most people only think of the seeds as edible, you can actually eat the entire plant, including the roots that are similar to carrots and parsnips. Unfortunately, there are some caraway diseases that may harm, or even kill, your plants.
Potential Diseases of Caraway
Pests generally don’t attack and damage caraway, but there are some potential diseases that can inflict it. If you see sickly caraway plants in your herb or vegetable garden, look for signs that can help you diagnose the problem and treat it:
- Aster yellows. Leafhopper insects spread this disease, which causes yellowing in the flower heads and stems. Aster yellows also results in reduction in leaf sizes, malformed flowers, and failure to produce seeds.
- Blight. A fungal infection, blight disease causes flowers to turn brown or black and die, not producing seeds.
- Damping off or crown rot. These root rot diseases cause yellowing and early plant death in year one. By year two, infected plants are stunted, yellow, and fail to produce seeds.
- Phoma blight. This type of blight is carried in seeds and causes gray or black lesions on stems and may prevent seed formation.
- Powdery mildew. A fungal infection, powdery mildew covers leaves and stems with powdery, white spores and can reduce seed production.
Caraway Disease Control
Once you have taken note of your failing caraway symptoms and determined what the issue is, take steps to manage, treat, or prevent it next season:
- Look for and control leafhoppers to manage and prevent aster yellows disease.
- There are now varieties resistant to blight, so preventing or controlling it requires rotating crops to keep the fungus from building up in the soil. Choosing clean seeds is also important.
- Damping off or crown rot is favored by wet conditions, so make sure soil drains well and avoid watering too much.
- The best way to prevent phoma blight is to use only certified disease-free seeds.
- Control powdery mildew by preventing plants from getting stressed and ensuring they have adequate water, light, and nutrients.
Most of the diseases affecting caraway are fungal infections. There are a few fungicides that can be used with caraway. Try using these management practices before considering the use of a fungicide.