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Goss's Wilt Outbreak Highlights Need for Tolerant Hybrids

Goss's Wilt Outbreak Highlights Need for Tolerant Hybrids

A severe outbreak of Goss's Wilt has hit Illinois and cases have been confirmed in Iowa, southern Minnesota and Nebraska. Planting hybrids that are tolerant to this corn disease is the most effective way to manage it.

Goss's wilt, a corn disease, is showing up on the 2011 crop in areas of the Corn Belt this summer. As of August 8, growers across Illinois are seeing corn plants dying early due to a severe outbreak of Goss's bacterial wilt. The disease can kill plants within weeks of infection and cause yield losses approaching 50% during severe epidemics. Cases of Goss's Wilt have also been confirmed in parts of Iowa, southern Minnesota and Nebraska.

"This is the first time we've seen Goss's wilt in Illinois this widespread this early," says Todd Thumma, an agronomist for Syngenta seed company. "Goss's wilt has typically been more prevalent in the western Corn Belt, and until now it had been very sporadic in Illinois. This is a persistent and economically serious disease with potentially devastating results, highlighting the need for growers' in affected areas to plant corn hybrids that are proven to be tolerant to Goss's wilt."

Goss's wilt often misdiagnosed as drought stress or other corn diseases

Goss's wilt is often misdiagnosed as drought stress or other foliar diseases of corn, especially in areas where it is not typically prevalent.

Symptoms of Goss's wilt include gray to tan lesions on the leaves, and these lesions follow the leaf veins. There are small dark green or black "freckles" within the infections. Another tell-tale sign of Goss's wilt is a glossy appearance to the affected leaves, due to bacterial ooze. This disease is often more of an issue in fields of continuous corn, but it can be seen in rotated fields as well.

Once Goss's wilt is present in a grower's field, it will always be present and with suitable environmental conditions can recur in following seasons, says Thumma. Thus, planting corn hybrids that are tolerant to Goss's wilt can be an effective way to manage the disease. Since it is a bacterial disease, it cannot be treated with fungicide. Fungicides won't control bacterial diseases; fungicides only control diseases that are caused by fungus. "Additionally, burying of infected crop residue, rotating crops and using pre-emergence herbicide products can help reduce occurrences of Goss's wilt," he adds.

To ensure tolerance and the right rating, Syngenta screens hybrids

For all of the affected areas, Syngenta offers a wide range of hybrids that have proven tolerant to Goss's wilt and include Agrisure traits for maximum performance potential. Products are rated for disease tolerance on a scale of one to nine with a one rating equaling the highest tolerance.

To ensure tolerance, Syngenta screens both potential and current corn hybrids for Goss's wilt tolerance under in–field disease conditions. "This rigorous rating, along with diverse genetics in the corn hybrid, enables our seed company to develop corn hybrids that deliver strong tolerance to Goss's wilt and other yield-robbing diseases," says Thumma.

Syngenta has one of the most extensive pools of corn germplasm

"In-field screening has proven more effective than greenhouse-only testing. And our observations in the field during this 2011 growing season confirm that. Syngenta corn hybrids that are rated tolerant to Goss's wilt are providing superior performance versus competitors' hybrids for growers facing this disease," says Eric Boersma, Syngenta corn genetics portfolio manager.

"Syngenta has one of the deepest corn germplasm pools in the industry," adds Boersma. "This, in combination with our screening and rating for Goss's wilt, allows us to recommend specific hybrids that are highly tolerant to Goss's wilt and help growers maximize their yield."

For more information or to find the products best suited for your specific disease, pest or soil needs, visit or talk to a local Garst, Golden Harvest or NK representative. Summing up, Thumma makes these key points:

Illinois growers, and some in Iowa, are now seeing an outbreak of Goss's bacterial wilt resulting in significant yield loss.

Planting corn hybrids that are Goss's wilt tolerant is recommended as the most effective way to manage the disease.

Syngenta offers a wide range of hybrids with proven tolerance to Goss's wilt and include Agrisure traits for maximum performance potential. 

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