Agronomy Blog

Trichoderma Ear Rot of Corn

by Steve Crafton | Sep 23, 2017

Looking at corn fields the past few weeks I have noticed some ear rots in a few fields. As I seen the scattered dying discolored husk I assumed it was Diplodia Ear Rot.  When I pulled the husk back the ear was covered with the powdery green mold Trichoderma.

Trichoderma 1 citedTrichoderma 2 cited
Trichoderma viride
is a dark green fungus that grows between the kernels and the husks. It starts as a white mold then turns green and powdery.  Infection is usually results from bird damage or mechanical damage. Windblown spores enter through these pathways along with rain which can lead to possible ear rot development later in the season.

If this issue is observed the field needs to be harvested as soon as possible.  Do not store the grain with good grain and try to utilize it as soon as possible.  Trichoderma ear rot is not associated with mycotoxins, but I would caution feeding heavy infected grain to livestock.

There is no “silver bullet” when it comes to ear rots. Timing and environment are key factors that we cannot control.  High temperatures early on can lead to shortening up of husk, flocks of birds feeding on tips and heavy rains later in the season can all influence the prevalence of ear rots later in the season.   Crop rotation and planting a hybrid with good husk cover can help reduce the infection of ear rots. 

Sources and Additional Information:
https://kentuckypestnews.wordpress.com/2014/12/
https://extension.entm.purdue.edu/pestcrop/2016/Issue21/

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Download a copy of this Technical Bulletin: Tech_349 - Trichoderma Ear Rot of Corn