Stalk rot diseases of corn are common in the Midwest and are present in every field to some extent, according to agronomists at Wyffels Hybrids.

Most stalk rot diseases are caused by fungal organisms and behave by primarily infecting injured, stressed or maturing plants. Typically, multiple stalk rot organisms are present at initial infections, and then a particular disease is favored by a set of environmental conditions, noted the seed corn company in its latest newsletter.

The presence of stalk rot can be responsible for significant yield loss when the disease causes premature death, resulting in poor ear fill or light test weight grain. Yield loss can also occur when stalk lodging is present and harvest losses result. Infection by most stalk rot organisms can occur early in the season but will become evident during grain fill.

Helping growers identify such stalk problems can be useful information in identifying what hybrids need to be planted that have genetics for resisting specific diseases and the fertility and crop protection programs that will protect the health of the plant. There is no assurance that the same disease problem will appear in consecutive years on a farm, but it is likely with some diseases.

Several of the more common fungal stalk rot diseases are highlighted in the Wyffels Hybrids newsletter available to read by clicking here. There are also facts about agronomic management practices to help reduce risk.

Although the window is tight for determining harvest priorities, determining stalk quality immediately could help prioritize fields that should be harvested ahead of other ones.