Rhizoctonia solani is an important pathogen of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) in the southern U.S. and worldwide. Cowpeas are especially susceptible to seedling diseases caused by R. solani when planted in cold, moist, spring soils. Nine cowpea cultivars were evaluated in inoculated field tests at six planting dates in Charleston, S.C., during 2004. The cowpea cultivars evaluated were Bettergro Blackeye, Knuckle Purple Hull, Mississippi Silver, Colossus-80, Charleston Nemagreen, Texas Cream-40, White Acre, Coronet, and Charleston Greenpack. The tests were planted on 20 Apr., 29 Apr., 11 May, 19 May, 27 May, and 8 June. The experimental design for each test was a split-plot with six replicates. Whole plots were cultivars, and sub-plots were inoculation with R. solani and an uninoculated control. Rhizoctonia solani caused significant seedling losses in all cultivars evaluated during mid-April to early June and seed yields were reduced in the 11 May planting. In general, standard cowpea cultivars (Mississippi Silver, Colossus-80, and Coronet) had higher stand counts and produced heavier seed yields than other cowpea cultivars, although these standard cultivars were not resistant to R. solani. Resistant cowpea cultivars are needed to allow earlier planting of the crop in cold soils, which would extend the growing season and allow more efficient use of harvesting equipment and processing facilities.
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