Fig Sclerotium Blight Info: Treating A Fig With Southern Blight

Fig Sclerotium Blight Info: Treating A Fig With Southern Blight

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Fungal diseases are probably the most common issues in many types of plants, both indoors and outdoors. Figs with southern blight have the fungus Sclerotium rolfsii. It stems from unsanitary conditions around the root base of the tree. Southern blight on fig trees produces fungal bodies primarily around the trunk. According to fig sclerotium blight info, there is no cure for the disease, but you can prevent it fairly easily.

What is Sclerotium Blight?

Fig trees are grown for their attractive, glossy foliage and their delicious, sugary fruits. These gnarled trees are quite adaptable but may be prey to certain pests and disease. One of these, southern blight on fig trees, is so serious it will ultimately lead to the demise of the plant. The fungus is present in soil and can infect the roots and trunk of the fig tree.

There are more than 500 host plants of Sclerotium rolfsii. The disease is most prevalent in warm regions but can show up worldwide. Sclerotium fig symptoms show up first as cottony, white growth around the base of the trunk. Tiny, hard, yellowish-brown fruiting bodies can be seen. These are called sclerotia and start out white, darkening over time.

The leaves will also wilt and may exhibit signs of the fungus. The fungus will get into the xylem and phloem and essentially girdle the tree, stopping the flow of nutrients and water. According to fig sclerotium blight info, the plant will slowly starve to death.

Treating Southern Blight on Fig Trees

Sclerotium rolfsii is found in field and orchard crops, ornamental plants, and even turf. It is primarily a disease of herbaceous plants but, occasionally, as in the case of Ficus, can infect woody stemmed plants. The fungus lives in soil and overwinters in dropped plant debris, such as fallen leaves.

The sclerotia can move from plant to plant by wind, splashing or mechanical means. During late spring, the sclerotia produce hyphae, which penetrate the fig plant tissue. The mycelial mat (white, cottony growth) forms in and around the plant and slowly kills it. Temperatures must be warm and conditions moist or humid to infect figs with southern blight.

Once sclerotium fig symptoms are apparent, there is nothing you can do and it is recommended the tree be removed and destroyed. This may seem drastic, but the tree will die anyway and the presence of the fungus means it can continue to produce sclerotia that will infect other plants nearby.

The sclerotia can survive in soil for 3 to 4 years, which means it is unwise to plant any susceptible plants in the site for quite some time. Soil fumigants and solarization may have some effect on killing the fungus. Deep plowing, lime treatment and the removal of old plant material are also effective ways to combat the fungus.

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