Southern blight hits Louisiana industrial hemp

Posted by Meghan Gregory on Jun 9th 2021

Louisiana’s first industrial hemp crop is getting hammered by a fungal disease called southern blight.

LSU AgCenter plant doctor Raj Singh says the disease is caused by a soilborne fungus called Sclerotium rolfsii.

“The pathogen has a wide host range and is known to cause disease on more than 500 plant species in 100 plant families,” Singh said. “Some of the economically important vegetables include tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplants and cucurbits.”

The fungus also affects a wide variety of woody ornamentals, annual and perennial herbaceous, and bedding plants.

Hemp plants infected with southern blight start to wilt initially and later on turn brown and eventually die, Singh said.

On closer inspection of wilted plants, dead, water-soaked lesions can be observed along with white fungal growth (mycelium) and sclerotia on the base of the plant at the soil line.