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Keep an Eye Out for Foliar Diseases in CornKeep an Eye Out for Foliar Diseases in Corn

Weather patterns so far could set up disease issues in susceptible hybrids.

Tom Bechman 1

July 16, 2014

2 Min Read

Dave Nanda is telling farmers to keep an eye out for foliar diseases in corn. He's particularly concerned about northern corn leaf blight, which likes wetter-than-normal and cooler-than-normal weather. Gray leaf spot is also a concern, depending on weather patterns. The gray leaf spot fungus tends to prefer warmer temperatures, but also wet or high-moisture conditions.

Nanda, Genetics and Technology Consultant for Seed Consultants, Inc. says that infections in some fields likely started in early July. Some reports from farmers indicated they had seen lesions. Others reported that their fields seemed clean.


Hybrids differ in susceptibility to these diseases. It's a good time to check with your seedsman about each hybrid, so you know where to concentrate your scouting efforts.

Related: Spraying Foliar Fungicide Can Aid Corn Health

Plant breeders have improved resistance to many diseases, including northern corn leaf blight and gray leaf spot, Nanda says. However some hybrids have more resistance than others. And how much any hybrid might be affected may depend upon how sever the outbreak of the disease becomes.

The key is keeping the disease from infecting the ear leaf, Nanda says. If significant disease pressure develops, a fungicide application may be warranted. Consult with your dealer, and check labels carefully so you know when to apply various products. In early planted fields the window for effective applications may be closing soon.

In fields that were planted early, check labels on products to make sure you don't apply fungicides too soon. Certain fungicides carry a risk of producing some ear abnormalities if applied before the stage of growth for the corn specified on the fungicide label.

Whether either of these diseases or any other foliar disease in corn has an impact this year will ultimately depend on weather patterns the rest of the season, Nanda says. Stay alert and keep scouting, he concludes.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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