If you assume you won't have to worry about ear molds this fall because it has been so dry lately, you could be in for a surprise. Agronomists say that conditions were right for molds to get started earlier in the year when it was wetter and there was often humidity and dews. Indeed, a yield check at the Crop Watch '13 field about three weeks ago uncovered a moldy ear.
In that case it was a whitish mold. Identifying the type of ear rot can be important, experts say, because of several reasons. First, certain ear rots may produce feed that hogs won't eat. Feeding corn infected with Gibberella ear rot to hogs generally results in hogs refusing to eat after a couple days.
Some molds also produce aflatoxins, although that's usually more of a problem when there is dry weather and stress earlier in the season.
The next reason to identify the mold, notes Dave Nanda, Director of Genetics and Technology for Seed Consultants, Inc., is so that you can search for resistance to that particular disease for your farm. Different hybrids have more resistance to some diseases than others.
Also, the situation is more critical if you want to grow corn back in the field, Nanda says. Many of the fungi causing ear rots and stalk rots over winter in corn residue. Plowing may not be the answer, however, especially if the land is highly erodible.
Work with your seedsmen to pick hybrids that are still productive but that have resistance to diseases that have been troublesome on your farm. Even if you grow soybeans next year and come back with corn in 2015 in a field infested this fall, the problem could reoccur if weather conditions are right. There will still be inoculum present.