Head SmutCORN068.JPG

Head smut

Area of impact: Tassel

Description: Galls, similar to those of common smut except vascular bundles, are contained with the masses of spores giving them a stringy appearance. Ears of infected plants have a teardrop shape and no silk because the husks are filled with spores.

Pathogen involved: Sphacelotheca reiliana (a fungus)

Timing/Conditions: Occurs in seeds but is not apparent until after flowering. Spores can survive in soil for several years.

Contributing factors: Spores can also be seedborne or carried by the wind, but this is not considered a main source of infection.

Management practices: Try seed treatment fungicides, resistant hybrids and planting earlier in the season to avoid optimal temperatures for spore germination.

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