Audrey Kalil to Speak About Root Rot of Peas at WREC Field Day

Dr. Audrey Kalil will be discussing root rot of peas at 4:05 p.m. CT at Williston Extension Center's Dryland Field Day, July 14. Kalil is currently conducting disease management research in pulse crops- her work in peas and lentils focuses on Fusarium and Aphanomyces root rot. 

According to, root rots are an important yield-limiting factor in lentil and pea production. The primary causal agents of root rot of peas and lentils are the fungal pathogens: Rhizoctonia solani and Fusarium species and the fungal-like water mold pathogens Aphanomyces euteiches and Pythium species.

Fusarium species are most frequently identified as causal agents of root rot of peas and lentils in North Dakota. Aphanomyces root rot has been identified in up to 50% of North Dakota pea and lentil fields on a yearly basis and is known to be the most destructive of the root rots when the environment is conducive.

General root rot symptoms are distinct, but because multiple pathogens often infect individual plants concurrently, accurately identifying the causal agents based on symptoms can be difficult. As the plant infection progresses, damaged areas of plant tissue merge and microbes begin to invade the plant.

Fusarium root rot typically does not kill the plant, but yield may be reduced. Leaf yellowing, wilting, and stunting are associated with reduced nutrient and water uptake. Fusarium species are capable of surviving as mycelium in soil or crop debris - some species form resting spores, which remain viable for as long as six years.

Proactive management of root rots is important to maximize production of these important crops. According to, the first line of defense is crop rotation, which is already well-practiced by pulse growers. A disease like root rot can only be managed preventatively, therefore lengthening out the time between both peas and lentils is important.

If a grower is concerned about disease or pest problems, the first step is to diagnose the problem and then determine the appropriate management response. Plant disease diagnostics labs are available at North Dakota State University and Montana State University. Farmers can reach out to county agents to work with researchers and labs to understand the problem and develop a management strategy.


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