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Corn Disease Update

corn disease meeting

Corn Disease July 2015

Radio advertisements, email blasts, and other media are warning of corn diseases and the need for fungicides.  Two months of humid, wet weather has allowed for disease development.  It’s important to know what diseases truly are in your field before spraying a fungicide, particularly with today’s economics.  Here’s what we’re seeing in fields right now in the Clay, Nuckolls, Thayer, Adams county area.  Based on the diseases we’re seeing, we would recommend you scout your fields to know whether you have mostly bacterial or fungal diseases present.  Consider disease pressure, where on the plant the disease is occurring, growth stage, and economics.  We have had southern rust show up in 10 of the last 11 years I’ve been serving in this area.  If you spray a fungicide at tassel, you may not have enough residual to ward off southern rust when it appears later, potentially resulting in the need for a second application.  In our area thus far, I’m not seeing enough disease pressure in many fields to warrant a fungicide at tassel; consider delaying an application till later for economic and resistance-management reasons.  Ultimately this decision needs to be done on a field by field basis.  Please also see this UNL CropWatch article regarding fungicide application and corn growth stage.  Although I don’t have a photo of it, I’ve also seen common rust in the mid and lower portions of corn canopies thus far.

Anthracnose has been observed in fields for a good month now.  It is mostly seen on lower leaves of plants, particularly in fields where we've had high amounts of rainfall, standing water, and/or hail.  I haven't seen it moving up the plant very far yet.  There are fungicides labeled for this, but we rarely recommend fungicide treatment for anthracnose.

Anthracnose has been observed in fields for a good month now. It is mostly seen on lower leaves of plants, particularly in fields where we’ve had high amounts of rainfall, standing water, and/or hail. Lesions are tan in the center and have a wavy yellow colored margin.  I haven’t seen it moving up the plant very far yet. There are fungicides labeled for this, but we don’t often recommend fungicide treatment for anthracnose.

We saw this disease in the Saronville/Sutton area last year.  This year, we are seeing it throughout Nuckolls, Thayer, Clay, and Adams counties...and most likely others too.  Some hybrids (and have seen this across companies) are highly affected by this bacterial disease.  We have informally called it

We saw this disease in the Saronville/Sutton area last year. This year, we are seeing it throughout Nuckolls, Thayer, Clay, and Adams counties…and most likely others too. Some hybrids (and have seen this across companies) are highly affected by this bacterial disease. Neither last year, nor this year, has the pathogen causing this disease been confirmed. Plants will have vein-limited lesions in streaks on the leaves. It is often confused with gray leaf spot early on.  Take a hand-lens and looking closely, you will see wavy margins on the lesions which doesn’t usually occur with gray leaf spot.  Over time, these lesions become elongated and can coalesce with other lesions. Also looking closely with a handlens or microscope, one finds the leaf tissue eventually becomes transparent. While other diseases can look similar to it, under the microscope, no fungal spores are found other than secondary ones. Putting an infected leaf in water reveals cytoplasmic streaming in which the bacteria is escaping the leaf tissue. (The pathogen causing Goss’ wilt also does this, but this disease is not the same as Goss’ wilt). Fungicides will not cure bacterial diseases and the products advertised for targeting bacterial diseases haven’t been researched for this disease.  This is the primary disease we are seeing in our area right now-and it looks nasty in some fields!  Unfortunately there’s nothing we can do about it.  If you are considering testing one of the products for bacterial diseases, please let me know as I’d appreciate testing it with you via on-farm research.

Goss' wilt (bacterial disease) has been observed in fields as well.  I typically notice it along field edges, pivot tracks, pivot/well roads or hail-damaged fields as plant wounds in general allow an entry for bacterial pathogens.  However, research has shown that the bacterial pathogen causing Goss' wilt can enter through the leaf stomates as well.  Leaf miner damage can be observed at the top of this photo, and often, but not always, I notice this occurring together in fields.  There is nothing we can do for Goss's wilt if you have this disease in your fields right now.  There are products targeting bacterial diseases on the market.  If you're interested in trying these, please consider an on-farm research experiment to prove the efficacy to yourself and help us obtain data.

Goss’ wilt (bacterial disease) has been observed in fields as well. I typically notice it along field edges, pivot tracks, pivot/well roads or hail-damaged fields as plant wounds in general allow an entry for bacterial pathogens. However, research has shown that the bacterial pathogen causing Goss’ wilt can enter through the leaf stomates as well. Leaf miner damage can be observed at the top of this photo, and often, but not always, I notice this occurring together in fields. There is nothing we can do for Goss’s wilt if you have this disease in your fields right now. There are products targeting bacterial diseases on the market. If you’re interested in trying these, please consider an on-farm research experiment to prove the efficacy to yourself and help us obtain data.

Physoderma brown spot typically doesn't occur in our area until tasseling (which is where we are at now in some fields).  However, I was seeing this as early as two weeks ago on some hybrids.  The pathogen causing this disease is a fungal-like pathogen that moves with water.  You will notice a purple/brown color on midribs of leaves, leaf sheaths, stalks, and tiny yellow/brown/purple spots on leaves.  This disease isn't considered yield-limiting or of significance to us in Nebraska.  Some confuse this disease with southern rust, but there are no pustules produced with Physoderma brown spot.

Physoderma brown spot typically doesn’t occur in our area until tasseling (which is where we are at now in some fields). However, I was seeing this as early as two weeks ago on some hybrids. The pathogen causing this disease is a fungal-like pathogen that moves with water. You will notice a purple/brown color on midribs of leaves, leaf sheaths, stalks, and tiny yellow/brown/purple spots on leaves. This disease isn’t considered yield-limiting or of significance to us in Nebraska. Some confuse this disease with southern rust, but there are no pustules produced with Physoderma brown spot.

The larger, rectangular lesion is typical of gray leaf spot found in some lower leaf canopies right now.  It is easy to confuse with anthracnose as both diseases appear a little different on various hybrids.  Gray leaf spot will be vein-limited while anthracnose is more blotchy in appearance.

The larger, rectangular lesion is typical of gray leaf spot found in some lower leaf canopies right now. It is easy to confuse with anthracnose as both diseases appear a little different on various hybrids.  Gray leaf spot will be vein-limited while anthracnose is more blotchy in appearance.  Comparing gray leaf spot with the unknown bacterial disease, the lesion edge will be straight for gray leaf spot and wavy for the bacterial disease.

Northern corn leaf blight is a disease we're hearing a lot about but I have yet to see it in our area.  Most have been mistakingly calling the unknown bacterial disease shown above northern corn leaf blight, but there's truly a difference as you see these photos.  Compared to gray leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight will be more cigar-shaped instead of forming a rectangle.  As this photo taken from the Mead, NE area shows, lesions are often forming in close proximity to each other on the leaves in Nebraska right now.  This disease is one to watch as it has been expanding on certain hybrids in some fields, particularly in eastern, Nebraska.  However, I still haven't seen it in our area and haven't received any confirmations of it being found in our area.

Northern corn leaf blight is a disease we’re hearing a lot about but I have yet to see it in our area. Most have been mistakingly calling the unknown bacterial disease shown above and even Goss’ wilt, northern corn leaf blight, but there’s truly a difference as you see these photos. Compared to gray leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight will be more cigar-shaped instead of forming a rectangle. As this photo taken from the Mead, NE area shows, lesions are often forming in close proximity to each other on the leaves in Nebraska right now. This disease is one to watch as it has been expanding on certain hybrids in some fields, particularly in eastern, Nebraska. However, I still haven’t seen it in our area and haven’t received any confirmations of it being found in our area at this time. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Nelson, Nelson Precision Agronomics).

Ag Reflections from 2014

Happy New Year!  Wishing all of you and your families a wonderful 2015!  As I look back at 2014, there are several ag-related observations that I noted throughout the year.

tornado damage in Sutton

Cleanup after the tornado in Sutton on Mother’s Day 2014.

The first observation continues to be the way communities and people in this County/area pull together in difficult times.  Whether after tornadoes/wind storms or helping other farm families who had an injured family member or had lost a family member, it’s just a blessing to see the way people pull together to help each other in time of need.  It was also a blessing for many who were unable to harvest in 2013 due to the August 1st storm, to harvest fields in 2014, and for many in the area to experience really good irrigated and dryland yields this year.

The dry winter of 2013/14 allowed for very mellow ground during planting time.  Often seeding depth ended up ½-1” deeper than intended.  The dry winter also didn’t allow for good residue decomposition leading to problems during planting and ensuing stand emergence.  Cutting off residue and high rains in May led to unintended consequences of replant situations when residue was moved off of farmers’ fields onto neighboring fields, suffocating emerged plants in portions of fields.  I’m not sure what the solution is for the future other than it really needs to be something worked out with neighboring farmers, but perhaps mentioning it here opens an opportunity for future conversations.

Cover crops have been incorporated into more operations in recent years, yet the ultimate goal for using them remains important in determining what species/crops are used in the fields.  We also realized the importance of determining amount grazed prior to turning cattle into fields (whether for grazing cover crops or crop residue), as high winds in winter 2013/14 in overgrazed fields led to soil blowing throughout the winter.

Systemic Goss Wilt Clay Co-Rees

Systemic Goss’ wilt showed up in some fields that were hail and/or frost damaged by V6.

The May frost showed us emerged soybeans at the cotyledon stage held up well to the frost compared to the corn.  We also again watched Goss’ wilt show up systemically by 6 leaf corn that was injured early by frost or hail in fields where Goss’ wilt had been a problem in the past.  We need more research/understanding of this disease.  Wheat continues to show us its resiliency as it winterkilled in portions of fields, withstood drought-stress, and then made up yield in the last 4-6 weeks.

Perfect pollination conditions coupled with high solar radiation, low night-time temperatures, and timely rain events were keys to the bountiful corn crop we experienced this year.  Soybeans were more of a mixed bag. In walking fields and in conversations with farmers, I think the disappointment in some irrigated yields could be attributed to early/over-irrigation, disease problems, and planting date.  UNL on-farm research showed on average a 3 bu/ac yield increase when soybeans were planted in late April to first week of May (regardless if growing season was warm/dry or cold/wet like it was this year) and those I’ve talked to who achieved 80+ bu/ac in the area this year planted in that time-frame.  I’m curious if there’s something to planting a 2.4-2.5 maturity early vs. a 3.0+ maturity early as some area producers are seeing strong yields from a shorter season hybrid planted early the past few years.  So if you’ve also seen this and/or are interested, that will be an on-farm research project to try next year.  Please let me know if you’re interested!

Here’s wishing you a healthy and prosperous 2015!

Crop Update 8/1/14

Southern rust of corn confirmed in Clay County July 31.  This was found on one leaf in a field near Trumbull.  Just because southern rust has been found in the area, we don't recommend automatically spraying.  Scout your fields and consider disease pressure, growth stage, and economics.  Long season corn and late-planted fields have the potential for most damage.

Southern rust of corn confirmed in Clay County July 31. Very small, tan-brown lesions on upper surface of the leaf, usually in clusters.  Spores inside the pustules are typically orange.  This was found on one leaf in a field near Trumbull. Just because southern rust has been found in the area, we don’t recommend automatically spraying. Scout your fields and consider disease pressure, growth stage, and economics. Long season corn and late-planted fields have the potential for most damage.  Secondary common rust sporulation has also been confused as southern rust as the secondary pustules tend to look like this.  It’s important to obtain microscopic confirmation to know for sure if you have southern rust in your fields.

Spores of southern rust appear elongated vs. common rust appear as near perfect circles.

Microscopic Observation:  Spores of southern rust appear elongated vs. common rust appear as near perfect circles.

Another common problem is old common rust lesions being confused as gray leaf spot.  The color of this lesion is a tan-gray, typical of gray leaf spot.  Using backlighting or a handlens, you can see the pustules within this lesion confirming it is common rust and not gray leaf spot.  I've had many calls that gray leaf spot was up the entire plant in their fields and after looking at fields, have found it to be common rust in most situations.  It's important to know what disease you truly have to make the best decision on fungicide application.

Another common problem is old common rust lesions being confused as gray leaf spot. The color of this lesion is a tan-gray, typical of gray leaf spot. Using backlighting or a handlens, you can see the pustules within this lesion confirming it is common rust and not gray leaf spot. I’ve had many calls that gray leaf spot was up the entire plant in their fields and after looking at fields, have found it to be common rust in most situations. It’s important to know what disease you truly have to make the best decision on fungicide application.

Have also received questions on soybeans, particularly in dryland.  Soybeans are drought stressed-often showing it in pockets within dryland fields right now.  Closer observation shows plants aborting pods and losing lowest leaves.  Spidermites can also be viewed on leaves in some of these patches.

Have also received questions on soybeans, particularly in dryland. This photo is showing drought stressed soybeans-often occurring in pockets within dryland fields right now. Closer observation shows plants aborting pods and losing lowest leaves. Spidermites can also be viewed on leaves in some of these patches.

Dryland corn showing stress as well.  June rains were making for dryland crops with potential, but also led to shallow rooting.  Crops could use a drink right now....but would prefer no more ice and hail.  The storm that hit Clay County so hard occurred one year ago today.

Dryland corn showing stress as well. June rains were making for dryland crops with potential, but also led to shallow rooting. Crops could use a drink right now….but would prefer no more hail and tornadoes. The storm that hit Clay County so hard occurred one year ago today.

Corn Disease Look-Alikes

Physoderma brown spot

Physoderma brown spot on corn. While the small, speckled lesions may look like southern rust, under hand lens or microscopic observation, there are no raised pustules as would be the case with southern rust. Also notice the brown/purple discoloration on the midrib which is also noticed on the stalk as well where the leaf color meets the stalk.

Fair week tends to be time for tasseling in corn and considerations for watering and fungicide application are being made.  Regarding diseases in corn, there has been confusion about a few diseases, particularly about a disease called physoderma brown spot which some have confused for southern rust.  The fungus causing physoderma brown spot feeds on pollen and debris on leaves and does not cause harm to the corn plants themselves.  Because the spores of this fungus move via water (it’s closely related to oomycetes), numerous lesions can appear on leaves in bands or areas where water collects.  While the lesions may look like early southern rust, there will be no pustules present and often purple colored lesions will also be observed in the midrib, leaf sheath, stalk, and outer husks.

Differentiating Rusts:

2013-07-30 09.31.26

Southern rust in corn. We currently have not seen southern rust in Nebraska in 2014. Notice how you can see raised pustules in this picture compared to the photo of physoderma brown spot above.

When differentiating between southern rust vs. common rust, there are several criteria to consider and this NebGuide is a great resource.  Typically common rust will have brick-red pustules randomly scattered on the upper and lower leaf surfaces that are larger in size.  It is common rust that we are currently seeing in our fields.

Bacterial leaf blight showing up heavily in some hybrids.  The UNL Plant and Pest Diagnostic Lab is determining species and we will share more information in the future.  There is no control for this disease at this point.

Bacterial leaf blight showing up heavily in some hybrids. The lesions are red-brown in color, long and skinny and mostly vein-limited.  Older lesions spread outside the veins and are buff in color-sometimes they are being confused as gray leaf spot.  The UNL Plant and Pest Diagnostic Lab is determining species and we will share more information in the future. There is no control for this disease at this time of the season.

Southern rust in our area tends to have very small, raised, tan-orange pustules on the upper leaf surface of leaves in localized areas on mid-upper leaves.  These pustules are tightly clustered on the leaves. However, color and size are relative as sometimes the two diseases can look alike.  Microscopic observation is the best way to differentiate the two diseases.  Fungal spores from Puccinia sorghi causing common rust will be near perfect round circles whereas fungal spores fromPuccinia polysora will be oblong in shape.

We do have some gray leaf spot in the lower canopies and I haven’t seen much northern corn leaf blight in the fields.  But we do

have a bacterial leaf blight that is affecting quite a bit of leaf tissue on some hybrids.  These lesions are long and skinny appearing at first to be limited to the veins.  There’s been concern about these lesions being severe gray leaf spot but it’s not and there’s nothing you can do about the bacterial disease.  Please don’t mistake this bacterial disease as a fungal one and trigger a fungicide application too early.

Fungicide Application Timing

We tend to see southern rust in our part of the State each year; it’s a matter of time.  Triggering a fungicide application too early may result in no residual for when you need it if/when southern rust occurs.  Every year some producers make more than one fungicide application due to blanket applications at tassel or shortly after followed by another fungicide application when southern rust occurs later in the year.  Consider good fungal resistance management and apply fungicides when disease pressure warrants them in your fields and also consider economics for your situation for proper fungicide application timing.

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