I have Ear Rot, Now What?

September 16, 2014

As harvest quickly approaches, we are starting to hear talk about ear rots in the field. Matt provided information on how to identify different ear rots that can occur in corn, but what should you do if you find ear rots? Here are some tips to help manage your crop if ear rots are present.

Diplodia Ear Rot – Diplodia is caused by the fungus, Stenocarpella maydis. Luckily this fungus does not produce toxins like some other ear rots. However, corn that has Diplodia present will suffer from lower test weight. The kernels are also more fragile causing more damage during threshing. The best management practice if Diplodia is in the field is to harvest the affected areas at around 22-23% moisture and dry the grain to 15% within 48 hours of harvest. Damaged grain will not store as long as non-damaged grain making it important to empty bins with damaged grain first.

Gibberella Ear Rot – Gibberella or Gib is caused by the fungus Gillerbella zeae.  This fungus can produce mycotoxins, which is dangerous for animals to consume. Gib can produce two different toxins deozynivalenol and zearalenone, these toxins are especially dangerous to swine. If Gib is present in your fields, be sure to have your grain tested for mycotoxins if you plan to feed it to livestock. For fields that have Gib, plan to harvest these fields first. Dry the grain to 15% and cool it as quickly as possible. Like other ear rots Gib infected corn will not store as long so plan to empty bins with infected corn first. This link, Gibberella in Corn from Purdue Extension, provides contact information to get your grain tested.

Fusarium Ear Rot – Management of Fusarium is similar to managing grain with Gibberella. The fungus that causes Fusarium, Fusarium moniliforme, can cause mycotoxins which are harmful to livestock. If you have Fusarium present in your corn, be sure to have it tested before feeding the grain to livestock. Once you harvest infected corn, it is suggested to dry the corn to 15% and cool it as quickly as possible.  If you see ear rots in your fields, feel free to contact your Seed Specialist with any questions.

Brian Marlatt – 1st Support Lead