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Angie Peltier

Angie Peltier
Former Extension Educator, Commercial Agriculture

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Hill and Furrow

Current topics about crop production in Western Illinois, including field crops research at the NWIARDC in Monmouth.
Figure. Saprophytic black mold covered my arm, clothing and face while rating corn plots.

Saprophytic molds on corn

Many people may have noticed the black clouds surrounding combines during the corn harvest this year. No, not a figurative but a literal black cloud. These black clouds are caused by harvest operations releasing mold spores from fungi that have colonized dead and dying corn tissues. These fungi are not corn pathogens, but organisms called saprophytes. Saprophytes grow on and derive nourishment from dead or decaying organic matter.

In rating corn stalk and ear rots in the past several weeks, I have personally encountered some of these molds that have colonized dead and dying corn tissue (Figure). Articles about the saprophytic molds responsible for both sneezing fits and dirtying harvest equipment in 2012 have been written by Drs. Carl Bradley and Alison Robertson, University of Illinois and Iowa State University Plant Pathologists, respectively.

An article addressing potential health effects of exposure to these saprophytic molds was recently written by Dr. Chuck Schwab, Iowa State University Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering Professor and Agricultural Health and Safety Specialist.


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