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Signs of damage
Keep in mind most signs don’t occur until late summer:
- Damping off. The cycle begins with the seeds. This fungus keeps them from germinating, or it can kill young seedlings only after they emerge from the soil.
- Stained seedlings. They will show red to brown lesions, similar to rust, and dead spots on stems and roots.
- Leaf damage. Premature yellowing and purple tinting on leaves are early signs of damage.
- Stem cankers. Stems will grow dark spots that will slowly spread and develop into tissue necrosis.
- The sudden collapse of leaves.
- Stunted growth.
- Reduction of root number and volume.
- Root rot.
How to prevent
Frequent rainfall and irrigation, paired with warmer temperatures during spring and summer, are linked to a higher incidence of this pathogen, so controlling these factors is crucial. Well-drained soils will make the environment less favorable for this Rhizoctonia solani, but it is impossible to have full control over this fungus.
Since this pathogen can survive in the soil for many years, crop rotation, better aeration, and water infiltration will help prevent spreading, as well as planting cereals like wheat or oats in between other crops, especially soy.
Since it targets the seeds first, seed treatments with fungicides will control the first step of the cycle (damping off) and will reduce the risk of the other phases happening. As with other diseases, remove damaged plants and any residues from the affected area.
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