- Gardening Tips & Ideas - http://www.weekendgardener.net/blog -

How to Prevent Corn Smut

Posted By Mindy On December 28, 2014 @ 1:08 pm In Diseases | No Comments

Corn smut is one of those things that can make you scratch your head.  This plant disease is normally not seen in commercial production instead it can be found in small, urban gardens.  It can appear on the leaves, stalks, tassels or ears.  How do you know if you have this plant disease?  Well, your “ears” will tell you.

Ears that are affected by the Ustilago zeae fungus will appear as a mushroom like growth that resembles a tumor or gall.  This growth will start out as whitish-gray like pumps with an irregular appearance.  As the fungus grows, the “tumor” will eventually turn black once the growth is filled with spores.  The “tumor” at this point can reach 4 to 5 inches in diameter.

Tumors that end up forming on other areas of the corn plant will remain small and will eventually become hard masses.

Once the corn smut tumor opens up, thousands of spores will be released.  Some will fall to the ground while others will be carried by the wind and water.  These spores can live in the soil and in dead plant debris for 5 to 7 years.

corn.smutOnce a corn plant has been damaged, the corn smut spores can invade the plant and start the process all over again.  But what can you do?  The key is to prevent the corn smut from taking hold in the first place and this can be done by following the tips below.

  1. When choosing your corn, only pick varieties that are bred to be corn smut resistant.
  2. Do not create an open door for this fungus.  What this means is to be careful not to cause any plant damage.
  3. On that same note, make sure to monitor your corn for any pest problems.  Pests’ habits of chewing and boring into plant material will create a gateway by which this disease can take hold.
  4. If you see the galls forming, remove them immediately.  If removed soon enough, this approach will prevent the spores from being released into the environment.
  5. If galls are present or not, remove the plant material but do not compost it.  Corn smut will survive the heat of decomposition and will contaminate the area you use it in.

Finally, get into the habit of rotating your crops.  This is very important as far as disease prevention along with keeping the soil healthy and viable.


Article printed from Gardening Tips & Ideas: http://www.weekendgardener.net/blog

URL to article: http://www.weekendgardener.net/blog/2014/12/how-to-prevent-corn-smut.htm

Copyright © 2010 Gardening Tips & Ideas. All rights reserved.