Southern Rust in Nebraska was confirmed in Nuckolls, Thayer, and Fillmore counties last week. The lesions were typically on one leaf in an isolated portion of fields at low incidence and severity. I was recommending to watch the fields instead of spraying right away. Greatly appreciate everyone who has gotten samples to me this month and to neighboring Extension offices serving as drop off points for samples. I’ve been looking at samples since early July and honestly, common rust at times has exhibited signs similar to southern rust. At my blog site (https://jenreesources.com), I’ve posted photos showing the differences of common vs. southern rust that we’re seeing this year. Southern rust typically is orange to tan colored with tiny, clustered pustules on the upper leaf surface. Common rust has had an orange appearance to it at times with smaller lesions than the ‘typical’ brick red larger ones. However, in every southern rust sample I’ve confirmed, the pustules have not gone through the back of the leaf…there’s been indentations but nothing has produced pustules on the backside. That doesn’t mean that the fungus can’t; it just rarely does. Also, these leaves have all occurred in the mid-canopy. I realize lowest leaves of plants often have a great deal of rust on them, but it’s been common rust in leaf samples I’ve pulled and received to date. I’ve also posted photos of another disease called Physoderma brown spot on my blog. Physoderma is the disease that has purple/brown on the midribs, around leaf axils and sheaths and it also can have tiny yellow-brown spots without pustules that look a lot like southern rust on leaves of plants. It’s one that we tend to see around pollination as the fungus-like pathogen swims in water on the leaf surface and feeds off of decaying pollen.
Confirming southern rust in a few Nebraska counties thus far doesn’t mean that every field has it and we don’t know how it will progress. So our recommendation is to continue scouting and if you have a suspect sample, you can get it to me (if you’re in the area) or to our Plant and Pest Diagnostic Lab in Lincoln. You can keep updated with counties that are confirmed by checking out the Southern Rust tracking site at: https://corn.ipmpipe.org/southerncornrust/. The wide range of planting dates across Nebraska this year has resulted in a wide range of corn growth and reproductive stages in fields, some of which are still in the vegetative growth stages. Keep in mind that late planted fields are at particular risk for southern rust if it increases in development. Right now corn disease pressure in general is low. I’m anticipating that to soon change for gray leaf spot susceptible hybrids. Some growers added a fungicide in with an insecticide treatment for western bean cutworm, which made sense to save an application cost. However, in general, automatic fungicide applications when one treats before disease develops may lead to loss of full product efficacy before critical disease levels. This can also result in the need for reapplication later if the disease worsens after the previous fungicide application and residual has worn off. And, always in my mind is eventual potential for pathogen resistance…so utilizing fungicides when we need them vs. automatically applying is wise for maintaining these fungicide chemistries.
York County Fair: This week is the York County Fair! All events and details can be found at: http://www.yorkcountyfair.com/. One special addition this year is “Brownies for Bergen” on Saturday, August 3 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. The late Gene Bergen was a 4-H icon and was planning on celebrating 50 years as a York County Ag Society Member at this year’s fair before retiring. While he won’t be with us in person, the York County Ag Society, 4-H Council, and Extension Office would like to honor him and his original plans to celebrate. So please join us for brownies and ice cream and share your favorite memories and stories of Gene!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Several of us had been watching the USDA IPM Pipe Map for weeks. It wasn’t showing southern rust moving and only Georgia was really lit up. Yet, I had heard reports in Texas and Oklahoma at one point. Spots were evident on corn leaves when backlit-so they were bound to develop into something.
That something has showed itself to be southern rust last week as it was confirmed in 11 Nebraska Counties: Kearney, Adams, Clay, Nuckolls, Thayer, Fillmore, Gage, Platte, Polk, York, and Boone. I’d like to thank all the crop consultants and ag industry professionals for sharing information on what we all were seeing and for submitting samples.
So the common question was, why didn’t the map show anything south of us? Federal funding was no longer available for this site and scouting efforts associated with it. Many Extension Plant Pathologists weren’t aware that the site was even still online and were sharing information via other means instead. The map for Nebraska will continue to be updated, but for surrounding states, it is advised to consult with your local Extension Plant Pathologist.
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.
For southern rust, we’re seeing 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 from Puccinia polysora will be oblong in shape.
With the cooler weather last week, we were unsure how the disease would progress. Southern rust likes sustained temperatures in the 80’s-90’sF with humidity and leaf wetness. So we encourage scouting for it.
We saw how southern rust can be devastating to fields in the past regarding removing photosynthetic tissue leading to cannabalization of the stalk. In determining a fungicide application, consider disease pressure in your field, stage of growth, pre-harvest intervals, and length of time for fungicide residual in addition to economics.
Other plant samples brought in contained diseases such as physoderma brown spot (which isn’t a significant yield limiting disease of corn). 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 the purple colored lesions will also be observed in the midrib, leaf sheath, stalk, and outer husks.
In early July, southern rust caused by the fungal pathogen Puccinia polysora was discovered in Hall, Adams, Clay, Fillmore, Thayer, and Burt counties in Nebraska. Most farmers in south-central Nebraska remember the corn season in 2006 walking out of fields orange and the slow harvest due to downed stalks. Since then, southern rust has been a disease of concern and fungicides are used to prevent and also treat it when it’s found in fields.
I promised when we were first discovering southern rust this year that I’d post pics, so while delayed, here they are! It is often confused with common rust which we see earlier every year. Common rust typically has pustules (raised fungal spores) that are brick red in color, larger, and on the upper and lower leaf surfaces. The pustules tend to be more spread out.
Southern rust typically has very small pustules that are clustered on predominately the upper leaf surface and are tan to orange in color. This year, southern rust pustules tend to be more tan in color than orange but are still distinctively different with their smaller and clustered appearance. Both fungal rust pathogens arrive in Nebraska each year via wind from the south. Southern rust prefers warm, moist conditions which, in spite of our dry spell, is typical within our pivot and gravity-irrigated fields in the area. At this time we are recommending if you find southern rust in your field to consider treating with a fungicide. Please be sure to read and follow all label directions including paying attention to pre-harvest intervals. A list of corn fungicides and efficacy can be found here by scrolling down to the corn section.
Additional information and pictures of these diseases can be found here.