Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design



Committee Chair

Sven Verlinden.


Root rot disease is a limiting factor in organic production of cool season crops for many growers in North central West Virginia. In attempt to control root rot and its devastating impact on crop stands we decided to study a number of environmental, cultural, and biological control methods. The purpose of this work was to study the effect of alterations of the seed environment on disease incidence (measured by crop emergence and survival 21 days after planting) and thereby define techniques which are suitable for small growers to adopt if they have root rot problems. We therefore explored four broadly defined methods of controlling the disease: the relationship between the amount of soil organic matter (OM) and disease incidence; the efficacy of soil pasteurization via solarization; the suppressive effects of cover crops on disease incidence; cultivation techniques and the influence of those techniques on the physical properties of the rhizosphere and disease incidence.;Neither high nor low fertility treatments had an impact on crop emergence. In addition, regression analysis indicated that there was no correlation between the amount of organic matter and emergence of either peas or spinach. Results from solarization field experiments showed a strong (P<0.05) positive effect of solarization on the emergence of peas and spinach. Experiments with cover crops/green manures clearly illustrated that common cover crops such as buckwheat or fieldpea serve no purpose in suppressing root rot pathogens, at least not in the short term. In that particular experiment, control plots (those left fallow) supported the highest emergence rates for both pea and spinach. In terms of disease control, the method with the best results in controlling root rot was transplanting. In addition this method is more practical, reliable and produces consistent results compared to the variety of other techniques and influences this project investigated.