Corn School: Late-emerging plants fuel gibberella ear rot

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When it comes to corn, even emergence and uniform plant growth is a well-known recipe for a high-yielding crop. New research also shows that even emergence is a significant contributor in the fight against gibberella ear rot and deoxynivalenol (DON) accumulation and other mycotoxins associated with the disease.

On this episode of RealAgriculture’s Corn School, University of Guelph associate professor David Hooker discusses the benefits of uniformity and how late-emerging plants can fuel gibberella.

Hooker and University of Guelph colleagues Katiani Eli and Art Schaafsma recently reported on a study that showed late emergers in the corn row had DON levels 300 percent higher than adjacent plants that were among the first to emerge. Hooker and his colleagues began the study following the 2018 gibberella and DON epidemic in the Ontario crop.

The researchers looked at delayed silking for late-emerging plants as a possible cause of higher disease and DON levels, but no direct correlation could be made. They concluded that higher disease levels in these laggard plants is the product of season-long stress that begins when the plants emerge days later than their stronger, more vigorous neighbours. That stress then continues throughout the growing year, making the plants highly susceptible to gibberella infection and DON accumulation.

In the video, Hooker shares agronomic tips for growers to help ensure uniform plant emergence and uniformity. A key focus is the corn planter, specifically seeding depth, planter speed, and ensuring sharp double disc openers are part of a well-maintained planter.

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