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Showing posts from October, 2021

What's with all of the smutty corn?

One of the fall field activities of several UMN Extension crops personnel scattered throughout the state is to conduct a European corn borer survey. While the primary task at each surveyed field is to assess plants for corn borer injury and to collect corn borer larvae for further study, surveyors also keep an eye out for other issues that can still be observed on physiologically mature corn. This can include the crop’s lodging potential and corn diseases like tar spot, common and southern rust and common smut. Unlike many other fungal pathogens that cause disease, those that cause the rusts, tar spot and smut produce spores or fungal fruiting structures that can still be easily identified on plants whose leaves have already died. What is it about 2021 that favored smut? The 2021 extreme to exceptional drought conditions that prevailed in the northwest crop reporting district favored common smut infections in some hybrids in some fields. More smut was observed than in a typical yea