POCAHONTAS, Ark. — A peanut fungus common in other states has now been identified in Arkansas, said Travis Faske, extension plant pathologist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
The disease, sclerotinia blight, is caused by a soil-borne fungus called Sclerotinia minor, and is a common disease in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Virginia and North Carolina.
The blight was detected in a commercial field near Pocahontas earlier this month, Faske said.
“Typically, symptoms appear late in the peanut growing season when the high temperature remains near 80 degrees Fahrenheit in late September or October,” he said. Symptoms include wilting, watery light green lesions near the soil line, a white fluffy mycelium that surrounds the infected stem and eventually the appearance of bleached lesions and stem shredding.
Eventually, “yield loss occurs when peanut pods detach from infected stems and pegs during the digging and thrashing process and are unable to be picked by commercial peanut harvesting equipment,” he said.
Faske said the blight can hitchhike on harvesting equipment, so any field that is infected should be harvested last, and harvesting equipment should be cleaned thoroughly to prevent the fungus’ spread.
“Though fungicides can be used to manage this disease, this year it is too late in the growing season to recommend a fungicide application,” he said. “It is important to note that fungicides used to manage sclerotinia blight are not the same as those used to manage southern blight, the most common peanut disease in the state.”