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Aerial Blight (Rhizoctonia solani)
Aerial blight is found in several states, but is primarily of economic importance in Louisiana where extensive yield losses have been reported. The fungus survives in the soil and on plant debris, as well as on certain weed hosts. Infection usually begins at flowering during prolonged periods of high humidity and warm temperatures.
Symptoms include leaf spots, leaf blighting, or defoliation. Leaf spots are irregular water-soaked spots that develop reddish-brown margins during drier conditions. Tissue in the center of lesions falls out giving the plant a ragged appearance. Brown lesions may also form on the petioles, stems, and pods. Severe infection causes pod blight.
Control strategies include the use of good management practices (seed bed preparation and weed control) and applying foliar fungicides. Some cultivars are more tolerant and should be planted in fields with a history of aerial bight.