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Southern blight

Sclerotium rolfsii Sacc.

Trees attacked by the fungus show a general decline (A). In the early phase of disease, a dense mat or web of white mycelium is evident at the base of the tree (B). The mycelium eventually disappears and leaves behind masses of hardened, fungal bodies called sclerotia (C). The sclerotia are globular, vary in size from 0.5–2.0 mm in diameter, and are at first white in color and turn tan to reddish or dark brown as they age.

Distribution

Mostly a problem from the Carolinas southward.

Similar Species

Any disease or disorder affecting the root system or rootstock/scion union can produce similar above-ground symptoms. The presence of mycelium or sclerotia at the base of the tree can be used to distinguish this disease from similar disorders.

Management

The fungus is a natural and resilient inhabitant of many soils in the south. It is best to avoid establishing orchards in locations that have a history of the disease. Young trees are most susceptible to attack.

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