Increase Of Cotton Seedling Disease On South Plains - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/23/07

Increase Of Cotton Seedling Disease On South Plains

A plant disease is costing cotton farmers and forcing some to replant.

It is called Cotton Seedling Disease and experts say it's brought on by an unusually wet spring.  But as NewsChannel 11's explains while cotton farmers are faced with the disease every year, this season has been extremely deadly.

J.W. Furteson has been cotton farming outside of Idalou for 60 years. However, this season he won't be harvesting cotton from his fields.

"We decided after the first of June and the 4 days of rain in June and 6 inches of rain. We decided then we'd try to do something else," says Furtenson.

Furtenson says Cotton Seedling Disease killed his plants. Which Jason Woodward, a plant pathologist with Texas A&M says is extremely visible across the South Plains this year.

"Seedling disease is everywhere but not always to this degree," says Woodward.

Experts say the hot and dry weather mixed with rains of the past that is bringing out seedling disease. This is causing Furtenson to replant all his fields.

"120 here, 90 across the road and back over there another. I'm not going have any cotton," adds Furtenson.

 Woodward says that is because fungi consumed the cotton's root systems.

"The primary pest we're seeing right now is Rhizoctonia. It's a soil born fungi," says Woodward.

Which means it's difficult for cotton to get nutrients in hot dry conditions.

"The fungi Rhizoctonia are consuming that root system as a nutrient source. However the crop may be able to sustain itself under cooler, wetter conditions," says Woodward.

 However, in Furtenson's case that means replanting his fields.

"We lost our cotton, but we'll come back with another crop," he adds.

 Woodward says Cotton Seedling Disease typically infects a crop at planting or right after.

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