Fusarium Ear Rot and Kernel Rot

Encyclopedia Article

Description and Symptoms

Fusarium ear and kernel rot is the most common ear disease, caused by several fungi in the genus Fusarium. Symptoms are a white to pink or salmon-colored, cottony mold that occurs on single or multiple kernels scattered or clustered on the ear. Decay often begins with insect-damaged kernels. Infected kernels are frequently tan or brown, or have white streaks.

Scouting

  • Scout R5 to R6 (R3 to R6 for Diplodia).
  • Check at least 100 ears selected from throughout the field.
  • If more than 10 percent of plants have an ear rot, harvest the field early.
  • Dry and cool harvested corn quickly.
  • Test moldy grain for mycotoxins before feeding to livestock

Management

Ear rots can reduce yield and quality of harvested grain. Some ear rot fungi may produce mycotoxins which are harmful and can be fatal to livestock. Ear rots can continue to be a problem in storage if the grain is not stored under optimum. 

Ear rots are caused by several different fungi. Generally, ear rots are more problematic in corn-following-corn fields and when ears have been damaged by insect feeding. Kernel moisture above 18 percent favors the growth of all ear mold fungi. 

Photo by Gary Munkvold 

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