No. 1 Defense Against Western Corn Belt’s Top Disease of 2018

Goss’s wilt is a bacterial disease that may cause systemic infection and wilting of corn plants, as well as severe leaf blighting.

The bad news: there is not much you can do this year to mitigate this disease. The good news: next year, you can take proactive action to lessen the risk presented by Goss’ wilt.

In 2018, Goss’s wilt has been reported in North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska with some calling the outbreak “the worst ever seen.” Here’s more on Goss bacterial wilt and leaf blight from the interactive online field guide.

The first step to avoid the disease impacting the 2019 crop: properly identify it. One of Goss’ Wilt’s first warning signs is leaf tip burning, which is also the same for drought stress, nutrient deficiency or wind damage. Lesions will be water-soaked/greasy, irregular and have freckles within the lesion. It’s also important to test for Goss’ wilt so you can confidently confirm the infection.

The next step for next year is to heavily consider your hybrid characteristics. Particularly for corn-on-corn fields and 2019 corn fields that will border 2018 corn fields with confirmed Goss’ wilt, choose resistant hybrids and/or use crop rotation to avoid back-to-back years of infection. Tillage that buries infected residue will promote decomposition and is noted to be effective against new infections.

For more information, here’s a bulletin from the University of Nebraska.