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Don’t be fooled by this imposter: It’s not the southern blight of peanut pathogen
Author: Travis Faske, Extension Plant Pathologist

By this time in the season there are usually a few reports of southern blight of peanut; however, there has been no reports of this disease in Arkansas, yet.  Southern blight or southern stem rot is caused by Sclerotium rolfsii, which is the most common soilborne disease of peanut in Arkansas and the Mid-South.  Some producers have treated once or twice to prevent peanut disease development, but there is no treatment necessary for this “southern blight pathogen imposter”, called Phanerochaete sp. (Fan-er-oh-KEE-tee).  This wood-rotting fungus produces hyphae that are similar to that of Sclerotium rolfsii, but its hyphae become yellow as it matures (Fig. 1).  Another diagnostic sign is the production of “tooth like” projections; however, these projections are not as obvious as the yellow hyphae.  This fungus is most common in areas of the field where crop debris remains on the surface (e.g. peanut stoves or corn cobs/stalks).  So, when scouting peanut fields for southern blight be on the lookout for this disease imposter.   Suspicious fungal mats can be flagged and revisited to inspect.  Because Phanerochaete is non-pathogenic to peanut no treatment is necessary.

Figure 1.  Phanerochaete sp. fungal mat near a peanut crown.

Figure 1. Phanerochaete sp. fungal mat near a peanut crown.

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