Sweet Potato diseases

Major Sweet Potato diseases are given below:-

1.Black Rot: Ceratocystis fimbriata

black rot of sweet potatoSymptom:
  • Small, circular, slightly sunken, dark brown spots are the initial symptoms of black rot.
  • Spots enlarge and appear greenish black to black when wet and greyish black when dry
  • Within the spots are small, black fungal structures (perithecia) with long necks which appear to the naked eye as dark bristles. The rot usually remains firm and shallow.
  • If secondary fungi or bacteria invade the tissue, however, the flesh beneath the spot turns black, and this blackened area may extend to the center of the root.
  • Tissue near the discoloured area may have a bitter taste. Eventually, the entire root may rot. Roots may appear healthy at harvest but rot in storage, during transit, or in the market.
  • Control black rot with crop rotation, since most crops are unaffected by the disease.
  • Disinfect seedbeds if a clean site is unavailable.
  • Propagate plants from healthy stem cuttings.
  • Cure roots immediately after harvest. (Cure roots at 85 to 95 degrees F and 85 to 90 percent relative humidity for 5 to 10 days.)
  • Apply a postharvest fungicide.
  • Do not wash and package roots showing symptoms of black rot.
  • Decontaminate equipment that comes into contact with an infected crop.
  • Spray empty washing machines and crates with a fungicide.
  • Fumigate storage structures.


2.Rhizophus soft rot: Rhizopus stolonifer

sweet potato rhizopus soft rot

  • Infection and decay commonly occur at one or both ends of the root, although infection occasionally begins elsewhere.
  • Rotting may be inhibited under dry conditions, but under humid conditions, the affected sweet potatoes become soft and watery, and the entire root rots within a few days.
  • If the humidity is high, the sweet potatoes become heavily “whiskered” with a greyish black fungal growth. This feature distinguishes Rhizopus soft rot from other storage rots.
  • The colour of the root is not significantly altered, but an odour is produced that attracts fruit flies to the area.
  • Infection is especially likely if the relative humidity is between 75 and 85 percent during storage or transport. Also, the longer roots are stored, the more susceptible they become.
  • Chilling and heat damage also predispose sweet potatoes to infection. Soft rot is very destructive when sweet potatoes are washed, packed, or shipped to market during cold weather.
  • Carefully handle sweet potatoes during harvest to prevent unnecessary wounding. This is the most important control method for soft rot.
  • Properly cure roots immediately after harvest.
  • Store roots at 55 to 60 degrees F.
  • Avoid handling stored roots because handling can create new wounds. Recuring is one possible solution to this problem.
  • Apply a recommended fungicide after harvest.
  • Do not allow sweet potatoes to be exposed to sunlight for extended periods (to prevent heat damage) or to be chilled in the field.


3.Bacterial soft rot: Erwinia chrysanthemi

bacterial soft rot

  • Roots are affected in the field, or more commonly in storage, by a soft rot that turns diseased tissue light brown and watery.
  • Lesions on storage roots often have a dark brown margin. Some storage roots appear healthy from the outside but are decayed internally.
  • Infected roots show black streaks in the vascular tissue and eventually undergo a soft, moist decay.
  • Mother roots often decay in plant beds. In the field, brown to black, water-soaked lesions appear on stems and petioles. Eventually, the stem may become watery and collapse, causing the ends of vines to Wilt.
  • Usually, one or two vines may collapse, but occasionally the entire plant dies.
Dispersal:The bacterium invades the host through wounds. It survives in crop debris or in association with weeds.
  • Sources of inoculum may include soil, infected mother plants, or contaminated wash water and harvesting equipment.
  • The disease is favoured by warm, humid weather.
  • Symptoms may not be visible at temperatures below 80 degrees F but may appear rapidly at temperatures of 86 degrees F or higher.
  • Carefully handle sweet potatoes during all stages of production. This is the most important control method for bacterial soft rot.
  • Select mother roots from fields free of the disease.
  • Cull roots infected during storage.
  • Use vines cut above the soil surface for transplanting.
  • Use a handling system that does not involve immersion of sweet potatoes in water.



4.Scurf: Monilochaetes infuscans

sweet potato scurf

  • Symptoms of scurf begin during the growing season as small, dark brown to black spots that develop on roots and later merge to form irregular lesions.
  • Lesions enlarge until the entire surface of the root is discoloured.
  • Copper-skinned sweet potatoes usually have brown lesions, and red-skinned sweet potatoes have black lesions.
  • Symptoms are restricted to the skin of storage roots and do not directly affect the underlying tissue. Affected tissue can be easily scraped off.
  • Cracks may develop on severely affected sweet potatoes and result in shrinkage because of water loss. Scurf-infected sweet potatoes are more susceptible to invasion by other fungi.
  • Scurf lesions continue to enlarge when sweet potatoes are put into storage, and new lesions appear if high relative humidity is maintained. The optimum temperature for disease development is 75 degrees F, but scurf can develop to a lesser extent over a wide range of temperatures. Disease development is greatest when soil moisture is optimal for plant growth.
  • Most scurf infections result from the use of the infected propagating material. The fungus can also survive in crop debris in the soil for 1 to 2 years.
  • Disease severity is greater and persistence of the pathogen longer in fine-textured, highly organic soils. The disease has a narrow host range that consists only of species in the genus Ipomoea.
  • Use only scurf-free, fungicide-treated sweet potatoes as seed roots. Bed these in soil free of the disease.
  • Cut transplants at least 1 inch above the soil line, and dip them in a fungicide.
  • Grow sweet potatoes after a 3- to the 4-year rotation with other crops.


5.Charcoal Rot: Macrophomina phaseolina

charcoal rot of Sweet potato

  • In the field, brown to black, water-soaked lesions appear on stems and petioles. Eventually, the stem may become watery and collapse, causing the ends of vines to Wilt.
  • Usually, one or two vines may collapse, but occasionally the entire plant dies.
  • Charcoal rot, caused by the fungus, can cause losses of sweet potatoes in storage, but serious losses seldom occur. The disease is sometimes confused with black rot and Java black rot.
  • Symptoms in storage begin as a reddish brown to brown, firm, moist rot, initially restricted to the area just beneath the sweet potato skin.
  • As the decay progresses, the pathogen moves toward the center of the sweet potato, causing further rot. Two distinct zones become apparent within the infected tissue.
  • The leading edge continues as a reddish brown decay, and a zone of black develops behind the zone of active decay.
  • Although the lesions are sometimes restricted, charcoal rot usually consumes the entire root, which eventually dries, becoming hard and mummified.
  • Properly cure sweet potatoes immediately after harvest to reduce the incidence of charcoal rot.





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