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(Little Rock) (AP) – Arkansas cotton growers have battled pests and disease this year, and the emergence of a fungus late in the season indicates a potential threat in the years ahead.

State growers are expected to harvest estimated 270,000 acres of cotton in 2013, down by more than half from 600,000 acres a year ago. As recently as 2006, Arkansas growers planted nearly 1.2 million acres of cotton.

Agriculture officials say growers will suffer yield losses due to tarnished plant bugs. And the emergence of Corynespora leaf spot is a new challenge for Arkansas growers. The fungus has caused problems in other cotton-growing states.

The disease can be controlled by spraying fungicide, but that adds costs. The leaf spot tends to flourish in wetter conditions, such as in northeast Arkansas this year.

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