Rain is often welcomed by home gardeners at this time of year, but several days of rainfall sometimes leads to plant health problems. This has been the case for crops such as okra and squash, whose yields in many gardens across the state have been affected by wet rot, a plant disease brought on by wet weather.
Wet rot, also known as whiskers rot, is caused by a fungus present in most garden soils. The fungus normally invades okra and squash blooms after they have fallen from plants. However, when it's wet and humid, flowers sometimes don't fall and remain attached to plants.
Problems come about when the wet rot fungus moves in to invade the old flower parts which adhere to young squash fruit and okra pods. Once flowers are decomposed, the wet rot fungus continues its activities and attacks young okra pods or squash fruit which are rotted within a few days.
Okra pods and squash fruit affected by wet rot often develop a distinctive surface growth which resembles whiskers, thus wet rot is sometimes referred to as "whiskers" rot.
What steps should a gardener take to handle wet rot? Control of this disease can be difficult, but certain measures can be used to reduce the problem.
Infobytes newsletter was written by the late Dr. Frank Killebrew, Extension Specialist.