Soft, water-soaked areas on leaves or fruit are often a symptom of bacterial soft rot. Many types of vegetables are vulnerable, including broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, onions, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes and peppers. When soft rot bacteria infect broccoli, lettuce, and cabbage, the heads rot. Fruit of infected pepper and tomato plants becomes soft and brown. Carrots rot near the crown; onions soften first at the neck, and the rot eventually spreads into the bulb. Potato tubers become soft and mushy after harvest. In all cases, a foul odor is evident.
The bacterium overwinters in the soil on plant debris. Warm, humid conditions favor its spread. Infection often enters the plant via a cut, bruise, or insect damage.
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