Corn Smut Information

Corn Smut Information

By Kat Yares, Garden Guides Contributor

About Corn Smut

Corn smut, or common smut of corn, is one of the most common diseases to affect all varieties of corn. Sweet corn and popcorn are more susceptible, but corn smut can affect dent corn also.

Corn smut is characterized by a mass of greasy, powdery black spores surrounded by white, smooth corn tissues. The gall can grow as large as four to five inches before maturing and bursting, spreading the spores to the remaining corn crop.

Prevention and Control

In small gardens, corn smut can be controlled by simply removing the galls and destroying them either by burning or burying. This should be done by neighbors that are growing corn also, as the spores can travel a far distance on the wind, on the seed or in animal manure.

For the commercial grower, the key to controlling corn smut is to use resistant hybrids. Choosing the later harvested varieties can help the problem as the ears and tassels generally form until summer after the spring rainy season.

Affected Plants

Corn

Damage

The galls of corn smut generally form on the ears, nodes and tassels of the plants, although it can form on the leaves of the stalks. Losses occur when corn smut infects the corn ears or if galls grow just above the ears on the stalks.

Other Methods of Control

Corn smut galls form where there is injury to the plant. The use of insecticides to control corn borers can prevent many instances of common smut of corn. Care should be taken when cultivating around corn plants so that the plants aren't damaged. At the seasons end, stalks should be plowed under where the spores will die over winter.

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