University of Georgia Cooperative Extension plant pathologist Bob Kemerait is advising cotton producers to stay on alert for bacterial blight as the season rolls on. Farmers who work in fields with a history of bacterial blight should be on high alert.
Bacterial blight, which is also known as angular leaf spot, causes water-soaked lesions on cotton bolls. The disease has become more problematic over the past two growing seasons. High rates of defoliation and boll rot were reported in the most affected areas.
“Like we saw last year, there were fields where cotton production hadn’t occurred in many years and bacterial blight showed up to a small degree. How did it get there?” Kemerait said. “One of the possible reasons is that it came in on the seed.”
Kemerait is advising producers to consider planting resistant varieties of cotton. He says farmers can also rotate affected fields away from cotton for at least one season to minimize risk; infected seed is known to spread bacterial blight.
“Bacterial blight is very much on the minds of our growers,” Kemerait continued. “In 2016, it was not severe or yield-limiting in most places, but there were some areas, especially in southwest Georgia, where yield losses did occur due to this disease.”
However, bacterial blight is not the only challenge producers face. Root-knot nematodes have also threatened Georgia cotton production. They are known to stunt plant growth. Kemerait advises farmers not to lose sight of other challenges and diseases this growing season.