How to Manage Pests

UC Pest Management Guidelines

Dry Beans

White Mold

Pathogen: Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and S. trifoliorum

(Reviewed 8/07, updated 12/08)

In this Guideline:


White mold first appears as a watery rot on stems, leaves, and pods. White mycelium is often visible on the surface of rotted tissue under moist conditions. The development of black, irregularly shaped sclerotia is the best diagnostic feature. The disease may occur on the stem near the soil line (especially common in garbanzo beans) or more commonly, on pods, leaves, and stems. Affected tissue dries quickly and bleaches to a pale tan or almost white color. Entire branches or stems may be killed, which results in yellow flagging in the field. When the main stem is affected near the soil line, the entire plant may be killed.


Sclerotia survive in the soil for several years. After several weeks of moist and cool (39°F or 4°C) conditions, sclerotia within 2 inches of the soil surface are preconditioned to produce mushroomlike fruiting structures called apothecia, which form after one to several weeks of temperatures at 52° to 68°F (11° to 20°C) in moist soil. Airborne spores (ascospores) are then released from the apothecia by changes in relative humidity and germinate on plants parts, especially senescing flower parts. Ascospores commonly colonize senescent petals that are attached or detached. The fungus may remain viable in blossoms for a month. Plant surfaces in contact with blossoms must remain continuously wet for 48 to 72 hours for infection to occur. White mold develops most rapidly at 68° to 77°F (20° to 25°C). White mold is generally more severe in fields with heavy canopies.

Other plant surfaces, especially the lower stem near the soil surface, appear to be susceptible, even before flowering. It is possible that some sclerotia germinate directly and infect the crown of a plant through mycelial invasion.

Sclerotinia sclerotiorum infects many cultivated plants and weeds. Ascospores may blow in from other fields and start epidemics in beans.

Cultural Control
Rotation with nonhosts, such as small grains and corn, may reduce soil inoculum. However, many weeds are hosts and may maintain the fungus. Airborne ascospores may also blow in from surrounding fields. Avoid heavy applications of nitrogen to reduce excessive canopies. Wide row spacings may help keep the foliage dry.

Monitoring and Treatment Decisions
Start inspecting plants for symptoms of white mold along with other pests and their damage during the pod fill stage. Chemical control is difficult because infection is often limited to plant parts covered by the leaf canopy. Apply fungicides during the flowering period to provide coverage on senescing petals.

Common name Amount to Use** R.E.I.+ P.H.I.+
(trade name)   (hours) (days)

Calculate impact of pesticide on air quality
Bee precaution pesticide ratings
When choosing a pesticide, consider information relating to environmental quality. Not all registered pesticides are listed. Always read label of product being used.
  (Topsin M) 70WP 1–1.5 lb 12 28
  MODE OF ACTION GROUP NAME (NUMBER1): Methyl benzimidazole (1)
  (Endura) 8–11 oz 12 21
  COMMENTS: Do not exceed 2 applications/year.
** Mix with sufficient water to obtain full coverage.
+ Restricted entry interval (R.E.I.) is the number of hours (unless otherwise noted) from treatment until the treated area can be safely entered without protective clothing. Preharvest interval (P.H.I.) is the number of days from treatment to harvest. In some cases the REI exceeds the PHI. The longer of two intervals is the minimum time that must elapse before harvest.
1 Group numbers are assigned by the Fungicide Resistance Action Committee (FRAC) according to different modes of actions (for more information, see Fungicides with a different group number are suitable to alternate in a resistance management program. For fungicides with mode of action Group numbers 1, 4, 9, 11, or 17, make no more than one application before rotating to a fungicide with a different mode of action Group number; for fungicides with other Group numbers, make no more than two consecutive applications before rotating to fungicide with a different mode of action Group number.



[UC Peer Reviewed]

UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines: Dry Beans
UC ANR Publication 3446


R. M. Davis, Plant Pathology, UC Davis
C. A. Frate, UC Cooperative Extension, Tulare County

Acknowledgment for contributions to Abiotic Disorders:
A. E. Hall, Botany and Plant Sciences, UC Riverside
Acknowledgment for contributions to Diseases/Abiotic Disorders:
S. R. Temple, Plant Sciences, UC Davis
Acknowledgment for contributions to Diseases (viruses):
R. L. Gilbertson, Plant Pathology, UC Davis

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