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Agronomy Update

S. Indiana and E. Indiana: Possibility of Ear Rot - What To Watch For!

Published on Thursday, September 4, 2014

As harvest starts to approach and we are working to get combines and grain bins ready, don’t forget to keep an eye on your corn fields. Many of us are hoping for a great crop, but as this year continues to look more like the crop of 2009, there are a few things we need to watch.

One of those is the possibility of ear rots. The wet, cool weather during pollination allowed for infection, and the wet, humid weather currently has been perfect to start development of Gibberella and Diplodia. Gibberella is a mold with a pink tint or color that is normally found near the tip of the ear. Diplodia is a white mold generally found near the base of the ear.

Diplodia will cause low test weight and chaffy kernels. Gibberella can produce the same, but it contains a mycotoxin. If you find infected fields, make sure to turn the fans up on the combine and try to blow out as many infected kernels as possible. If you can keep the infected grain separate and dry it to 15 percent moisture as quickly as possible. For long term storage it needs to be at 13.5 percent. Below is a comparison of the diseases:




As you walk fields looking for ear rots also pay close attention to stalk quality. The ample rains have left us with a great crop, big ears, poor roots, and loss of Nitrogen (N).

Many stalks have started to cannibalize themselves because of the loss of N and because they have a big ear to finish. Be sure to check the stalks with a push test or pinch test. You can squeeze or pinch the bottom third of the stalk to see if it collapses or simply push the top of a stalk across the row and see if it breaks off. If you are finding a lot of stalks that are weak, target that field for an early harvest.

We are also starting to see a few stalk rots. This week we did find some anthracnose stalk rot. It was near the top of the corn plant causing it to turn red. Normally this is found near the base and is black. Mother Nature is always changing things up just a little.



For more information see Purdue Studies:

Diseases of Corn Gibberella Ear Rot
Diseases of Corn Diplodia Ear Rot

Have a safe harvest season!


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Steve Gauck

Steve Gauck

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