Bacterial wilt devastates food crops world-wide. It destroys major crop plants such as tomatoes, potatoes, bananas and ginger. So far farmers have had to plant and wait for mature plants to observe resistance. Now research shows a possible way of saving time and reducing risk significantly for farmers and plant breeders. A new approach promises to forecast cultivar resistance at seedling stage. Scientists use plant metabolomics and statistics to decode the plants' chemical defenses.