Black Mold on Corn

August 29, 2012

By Alison Robertson, Department of Plant Pathology

There have been several reports of a black mold covering the leaves and stalks of corn plants across the state. Walking in these fields turn a white shirt black quickly. Not surprisingly, combining this blackened corn is also very dirty. 

The black mold is saprophytic fungi — microorganisms that feed on dead plant material. The wet weather over the weekend followed by warm, humid weather and morning dews have favored growth of these organisms. They are not known to produce toxins, and the harvested grain should look relatively clean.

Individuals with allergies or respiratory problems are encouraged to wear dust masks to reduce breathing in masses of spores. These saprophytic fungi are a big contributor to the mold portion of the pollen and mold counts. It is also important to keep combine engines and can filters clean.

 

Alison Robertson is an assistant professor of plant pathology with research and extension responsibilities in field crop diseases. She can be reached at 515-294-6708 or e-mail alisonr@iastate.edu.

Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Integrated Crop Management News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on August 29, 2012. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.

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Alison Robertson Associate Professor of Plant Pathology and Microbiology

Dr. Alison Robertson is an associate professor of plant pathology and microbiology. She provides extension education on the diagnosis and management of corn and soybean diseases. Her research interests include Pythium seedling disease of corn and soybean and Goss's wilt. Dr. Robertson receiv...