The Q&A Archives: White Mold on Bean Vines

Question: Last summer I had a lot of trouble with my bean vines, trouble I've not seen before, except one year when I tried to grow wax beans. They would grow to maturity, start producing, then turn slimy and moldy -- white mold! -- at the stem level, then the whole plant would die. I have small raised beds and carefully rotate each year according to my charts on a four-year cycle. We had a very, very dry summer and I couldn't water because of source limitations. Checked all my garden books and can't even find a description of what happened to my plants. Any ideas?
Any suggestions?

Answer: It sounds like your beans contracted a fungal rot known as watery soft rot. I'm surprised the crop rotation didn't work -- the recommended rotation time to avoid this problem is 3-4 years. The organisms that cause the problem require moisture to grow, so your dry summer would seem to prevent the problem. But if dew was heavy and plants were spaced close together, the organism could have taken hold easily. If this problem recurs, cull the affected plants as soon as you see a problem. Stay out of the bean patch when the foliage is wet, as you can easily spread the disease. I wish you better luck with this year's crop.

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