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Dealing With Root Rot in Okra Plants

Deepa Kartha May 20, 2019
Root rot, also known as cotton root rot and even Texas root rot, is a fungal disease that can be seen on plants with broad leaves like okra, peanuts, cotton and alfalfa. It is caused by the fungus named Phymatortrichum omnivorum. There is no full-proof treatment for fungal root rot. However, it is possible to control the problem.

How Does Okra Root Look Like?

Okra plants infected with root rot have leaves that are dry and brown. These leaves would come off easily when pulled, and the roots would be covered with bleary, brownish mold.

As the fungus is transmitted through the soil, you would also see a moldy, white colored spore mats in the soil around the plant.

What Causes Okra Root Rot?

The main cause for root rot is high temperature. This problem occurs only during summer or early autumn, when the temperature goes beyond 28oC.

Once infected with root rot, the plant cannot be saved, and the fungus can stay in the soil for years, unless the right measures are taken.

What Is the Treatment for Root Rot in Okra Plants?

There are two treatments that may help to revive diseased plants. After the plant is pruned, ammonium sulfate should be worked inside the trench created around the plant.

It has to be filled with water, and the process should be repeated for 5-10 days.
Another treatment is to use nitrogen-based fertilizers which can lessen the spread of the root rot considerably. However, there is no guarantee these measures would cure the problem completely. No pesticides are available to cure root rot.

How to Deal With Root Rot in Okra Plants?

Plant cereal crops like oats, wheat, etc. that are non-susceptible to Phymatotrichum fungus.

These cereal crops increase the activity of the microorganisms that reduce the growth of the fungus and other such crops, interrupting the spread of the infection in the soil.
Planting barrier plants around okra plant is another way of preventing the growth of the fungus. Barrier plants or trees that can control root rot are cactus, jojoba, evergreen conifers, mesquite trees, palo verde, hackberry, etc.
These ornamental plants prohibit or limit the spread of the fungal infection in the soil.
Planting the seeds or the plant of okra early in the season can help to prevent the problem of root rot. This way, you would be able to harvest the okra before the temperature rises and the fungus starts acting.
Crop rotation is another way of getting rid of root rot. Take out the diseased plant and instead, plant non-susceptible plants like sorghum and corn. Wait for 3-4 years before you plant okra again. Plough the area deeply before you use the space for replanting purpose.