The Extension Service continues to work with industry in pursuit of additional fungicides to control downy mildew in spinach and lettuce, says Stephen Koike.

“Fungicides remain important because we don’t have a lettuce variety that is resistant to every single race of mildew,” he says. “Same thing in spinach: we have even fewer fungicides, so we’re trying to develop additional materials.”

He says spinach is becoming an increasingly important crop for the Central Coast, with growing demand. High quality demands for the leaf crop will mean growers will need more tools to manage diseases, such as downy mildew, Koike says.

“There is great consumer interest in the health benefits of spinach, and it is a very high quality crop, so we need the tools to help maintain that high quality. That means any outbreak is a concern. Fungicides work, but we’re pretty boxed in, with only a few options. So, there is a lot of interest in developing new varieties that are genetically resistant.”