Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wet Soils and Corn Seedling Disease Risks

Paul Vincelli, Extension Plant Pathology, University of Kentucky

Soggy soils certainly are favorable for important seed rots and seedling diseases of corn, especially Pythium diseases. However, two things are working in the producers’ favor:

  1. Pythium species attack stressed corn. Soils in May are generally warm enough that corn is better able to fight off infections than it would be in late March or early April; 
  2. Common seed-treatment fungicides provide a fair amount of protection against seed and seedling diseases. 

It’s always a good idea to monitor corn stands for emergence and stand establishment, but I am less worried about widespread seedling problems than I am about leaf diseases. Continued sogginess could eventually result in major delays in planting. Corn crops planted in early to mid-May and beyond are at greater risk from a variety of destructive diseases, especially gray leaf spot, northern leaf blight, and southern rust. We’re not at that stage yet, but it is worth being aware of this potential risk.

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