A mystery about a disease that can destroy up to 15 percent of a cotton crop in the southeastern United States has been solved by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) researchers. The work could save cotton crops and prevent unnecessary insecticide spraying.

In 1999, scientists reported an emerging seed rot disease that was discoloring seeds and darkening fibers in cotton bolls in the southeastern states, making the crops unmarketable. It quickly spread throughout the southeastern Cotton Belt.

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