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Corn Crop Vulnerable To Disease

Last updated on Thursday, July 18, 2013

(WEST LAFAYETTE) - The wetter than normal weather has helped Indiana’s corn farmers so far this year. But a plant pathologist at Purdue says it has also made some of the crop vulnerable to diseases.

Three diseases, which could lead to reduced yields at harvest time, have begun showing up in some fields; gray leaf spot and northern corn leaf blight, both caused by fungi, and the bacterial disease Goss's wilt.

Kiersten Wise, extension specialist for field crop diseases with Purdue Extension, says moisture from rain and humidity helps spread the diseases, all of which are typical in Indiana.

Earlier this month, Purdue reported that 79-percent of Indiana's corn was in good or excellent condition, one of the highest percentages ever recorded for this time of year.

Wise says most of the crop's condition is unchanged, but she says farmers should be vigilant now that the diseases have arrived in parts of the state, particularly northern Indiana.

There are fungicides to treat diseases such as gray leaf spot and northern corn leaf blight. But Goss's wilt is a bacterial disease, so Wise says fungicides will not be effective against it.

Although several products are promoted for in-season management of the disease, Wise said, research in Indiana indicates they do not consistently reduce the disease once a plant shows symptoms of it.

Farmers suspecting that Goss's wilt is in their fields should have a sample analyzed by a diagnostic lab, Wise said.

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