Meridian Star

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September 21, 2013

Corn disease spreads to crop in north La.



It hasn't shown up in Arkansas or Mississippi, but with infections so close it's just a matter of time, said Jason Kelley, extension wheat and feed grains agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, and Tom Allen, a plant pathologist at Mississippi State University's Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, Miss.

Although several Mississippi farmers thought their corn was infected this year, lab tests didn't bear it out, Allen said.

He noted that, just as many human diseases have flu-like symptoms, many diseases and problems — including drought stress — share the signs of Goss's wilt.

And, oddly enough, pivot irrigation can leave a sheen that looks like bacterial exudate, Allen said. "There are several other things that could do something pretty similar," he said.

Even when the disease is identified, there's nothing much farmers can do to keep it from hurting their yield that season, he said.

Farmers whose corn has been infected by Goss's wilt should bury the stalks and leaves left in the field to try to cut their chances of a widespread outbreak next year, Hollier said. Rotating out of corn into other crops could help, too, he said.

Hollier said many farmers are burning their fields after the harvest. Burning isn't legal everywhere, and even those who burn the corn leaves and stalks should bury them afterward to speed decomposition, he said.

Weed control may also be important, because the bacteria can live in green foxtail, shatter cane and barnyard grass, he said.

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