(Jim Jasinski, TOMCAST Coordinator FOR OHIO, INDIANA, & MICHIGAN)
Background: TOMCAST (TOMato disease foreCASTing) is a computer model based on field data that attempts to predict fungal disease development, namely Early Blight, Septoria Leaf Spot and Anthracnose on tomatoes. Field placed data loggers are recording hourly leaf wetness and temperature data. This data where analysed over a 24 hour period and may result in the formation of a Disease Severity Value (DSV); essentially an increment of disease development. As DSV accumulate, disease pressure continues to build on the crop. When the number of accumulated DSV exceed the spray interval, a fungicide application is recommended to relieve the disease pressure.
TOMCAST is derived from the original F.A.S.T. (Forecasting Alternaria solani on Tomatoes) model developed by Dr. Madden, Pennypacker, and MacNab at Pennsylvania State University (PSU). The PSU F.A.S.T. model was further modified by Dr. Pitblado at the Ridgetown College in Ontario into what we now recognize as the TOMCAST model used by Ohio State University Extension.
DSV are: A Disease Severity Value (DSV) is the unit of measure given to a specific increment of disease (early blight) development.
In other words, a DSV is a numerical representation of how fast or slow disease (early blight) is accumulating in a tomato field. The DSV is determined by two factors; leaf wetness and temperature during the "leaf wet" hours. As the number of leaf wet hours and temperature increases, DSV accumulate at a faster rate. See the Disease Severity Value Chart below.
Conversely, when there are fewer leaf wet hours and the temperature is lower, DSV accumulate slowly if at all. When the total number of accumulated DSV exceeds a preset limit, called the spray interval or threshold, a fungicide spray is recommended to protect the foliage and fruit from disease development.
The spray interval (which determines when you should spray) can range between 15-20 DSV. The exact DSV a grower should use is usually supplied by the processor and depends on the fruit quality and end use of the tomatoes. Following a 15 DSV spray interval is a conservative use of the TOMCAST system, meaning you will spray more often than a grower who uses a 19 DSV spray interval with the TOMCAST system. The tradeoff is in the number of sprays applied during the season and the potential for difference in fruit quality.
TomCast with Asparagus
Research has determined that the Tom-Cast disease forecaster is a promising alternative to calendar-based spraying of fern in commercial asparagus fields. Tom-Cast alerts growers when the environmental conditions are favourable for purple spot disease development (extended dew or rainy periods accompanied by warm temperatures). Effective fungicides applied according to the Tom-Cast disease forecaster allows growers to manage purple spot disease of asparagus, while saving money and preserving the environment.