A guide to late season corn stalk and ear rot diseases
Penicillium Ear Rot
Another grain mold, Penicillium, can cause discoloration of the embryo known as “blue eye” and produce penicillic acid, which is not usually a toxigenic concern. This disease is particularly a storage problem and is favored by high moisture levels in grain bins. The disease is managed by reducing insect wounds in the field and maintaining low moisture while the grain is in storage.
Grain Handling and Management During Storage
Ear rot pathogens will usually continue to grow to some extent during grain storage. However, taking extra steps can minimize fungal growth and contamination of unaffected grain and potential deductions at the elevator. Drying grain to less than 15% moisture (for longer storage) or at least to less than 18% (for shorter term storage) is necessary to slow mold growth.
In addition to storage in bins, storing the grain in bags for silage, earlage, etc., to promote fermentation will only hasten the growth of these fungi when grain moisture is high and temperatures are still warm. Eventually, once oxygen is depleted and fermentation begins, it may indeed slow mold growth, but the process may take several days to weeks to do so, during which time the environment inside the bag can act as an incubator for fungi, allowing them to grow even more rapidly than they would inside a bin.
Identification and Management Resources
- Common Stalk Rot Diseases of Corn (EC1898).
- Corn Disease Profiles II. Stalk Rot Diseases of Corn (EC1868). Photos and brief management notes.
- Corn Disease Profiles III: Ear Rot Diseases and Grain Molds (EC1901)Corn Disease Profiles III: Ear Rot Diseases and Grain Molds (EC
- Major Fusarium Diseases on Corn, Wheat, and Soybeans in Nebraska (G2181).
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