Bacterial Soft Rot

Definition - What does Bacterial Soft Rot mean?

Bacterial soft rot, or soft rot bacteria (gram-positive Erwinia, Pectobacterium, and Pseudomonas), is a common plant disease that affects both indoor and outdoor plants.

Outbreaks of bacterial soft rot can happen virtually in any climate. The bacteria mainly attack the fleshy parts of a plant, including things like their fruits, tubers, corms, bulbs, and rhizomes. The condition also afflicts the plant's tender leaves, flowers, and young seedlings.

Bacterial soft rot is a broad term that refers to many types of plant pathogens that cause plants to rot. For example, while technically caused by a fungus, botrytis is often considered a bacterial soft rot because the symptoms are similar.

MaximumYield explains Bacterial Soft Rot

Bacterial soft rot can enter a plant’s system via pruning cuts and other wounds, or through spores in the air. It will only develop if the environmental conditions are ideal. The infection requires wet plant tissue and a temperature between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit to germinate. However, growth of the bacteria that cause bacterial soft rot is still possible between 32 and 90°F, with ideal conditions between 70 and 80°F.

Bacterial soft rot is a common infection that can afflict any plant, but is extremely common on eggplants, strawberries, carrots, celery, beans, grapes, lettuce, peppers, asparagus, raspberries, and tomatoes. Bananas, beans, cabbage, coffee, corn, cotton, onions, peppers, and potatoes are also affected.

Bacterial soft rot is normally first noticed on the lower sections of a plant's fruit or vegetables. It appears as an area of brown, water-saturated tissue that looks visually rotten. In some cases, black rings will start to form, and the entire fruit appears mushy or even translucent. Eventually, the brown area grows a grayish fuzz covering that resembles thousands of tiny gray, furry balls.

A brownish slime covering may also appear, especially in high humidity. As the rot on the plant becomes more widespread, a foul odor usually develops. The afflicted plant’s leaves and stem turn yellow and start to droop before the plant dies.

There is no treatment for bacterial soft rot related plant diseases once they occur, so prevention and early detection are key. This involves proper ventilation of a grow space, never overcrowding plants, never overwatering plants, and always sanitizing work spaces and tools.

Bacterial soft rot is sometimes simply referred to as 'soft rot'.

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