Rhizoctonia solani is an important pathogen of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) in the southern U.S. and is the primary cause of seedling diseases in this crop. Stand losses caused by R. solani are especially severe when cowpea is planted in cold, spring soils. Three cowpea cultivars (Coronet, Knuckle Purple Hull, and Mississippi Silver) were evaluated in R. solani-inoculated field tests at four planting dates in Charleston, SC during 2005. The tests were planted on 25 Apr., 9 May, 27 May, and 13 June. The experimental design for each test was a split-plot with six replicates. Whole plots were cultivars, and sub-plots were inoculated with R. solani and an uninoculated control. Rhizoctonia solani caused significant seedling losses in all cultivars planted on the first three planting dates. Seed weight and seed numbers were reduced for `Mississippi Silver' in inoculated plots for all planting dates. In general, `Mississippi Silver' and `Coronet' had higher stand counts and heavier seed yields than `Knuckle Purple Hull', but all three cultivars were susceptible to R. solani. The development of resistant cowpea cultivars would reduce stand losses due to R. solani and improve seed yields of cowpea planted in cold, spring soils.
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