“Certified disease-free plants.” We’ve heard the expression many times, but exactly what are certified disease-free plants, and what does it mean for the home gardener or backyard orchardist?
If you’re wondering how to keep plants disease-free, starting out with disease-resistant plants is even more important than you may realize. Read on to learn more about buying disease-free plants.
What Does Certified Disease Free Mean?
Most countries have certification programs in place, and regulations vary. In general, to earn the label of certified disease-free, plants must be propagated following a strict set of procedures and inspections that minimize the risk of infection and spread of disease.
To be certified, plants must meet or exceed a certain level of quality and safety. Generally, inspections are completed at independent, certified labs.
Disease-resistant doesn’t mean that plants are protected from every possible disease that could befall them, or that the plants are guaranteed to be 100 percent free of disease pathogens. However, disease-resistant plants are generally resistant to one or two diseases that most commonly afflict a particular type of plant.
Disease-resistant also doesn’t mean you don’t need to practice proper crop rotation, sanitation, spacing, irrigation, fertilization, and other methods to promote the healthiest plants possible.
Importance of Buying Disease-Resistant Plants
Once a plant disease is established, it may be difficult or impossible to eliminate, even with powerful, toxic chemicals. Purchasing disease-resistant plants can stop the disease before it starts, which saves time and money and increases the size and quality of your harvest.
Buying disease-free plants will probably cost you a bit more, but the small investment may save you untold time, expense, and heartache in the long run.
Your local cooperative extension office can provide more information about disease-resistant plants and how to avoid plant diseases common to your particular area.