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Northern Illinois Agriculture

University of Illinois Extension
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Aspergillus ear rot

Posted by Russel Higgins - Corn

I expect many producers to visit their corn fields this week for a number of reasons

  1. We are finally supposed to have several sub-90 degree days
  2. Farmers want to see if they have any damage from last weekend's wind
  3. It's finally time to make a yield estimate on the corn crop

While scouting fields be aware of Aspergillus ear rot. My counterpart Robert Bellm, Commercial Agriculture Educator at the Brownstown Agronomy Research Center shard the following image and a reminder to be aware of this fungal disease in Illinois. The causal organism for the disease, Aspergillus flavus is favored by hot (greater than 860F) and dry conditions at pollination and grain fill. Most of northern Illinois, up to this date, experienced those conditions. Symptoms include an olive green mold often associated with small aborted kernels at the tip of the ear. Aflatoxin is a secondary metabolite produced by A. Flavus. The presence of aflatoxin at levels as low as 20 parts per billion can cause corn to be rejected at the elevator. If scouting specifically for Aspergillus ear rot, select corn plants in areas that appear the most stressed.

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