How to Manage Fusarium Stalk Rot in Corn

FBN Network

Jan 03, 2024

Fusarium stalk rot, a fungal disease that primarily targets corn stalks but can also affect roots, ears and leaves, is triggered by several species of the Fusarium genus, particularly Fusarium verticillioides and Fusarium subglutinans. 

Fusarium stalk rot can cause substantial yield losses due to premature plant death, reduced grain fill, and lodging, which can substantially complicate harvest. In severe instances, the disease can result in total crop failure. 

This post will outline: 

  • Plant impacts of Fusarium stalk rot

  • How to identify Fusarium stalk rot

  • Regions typically affected by Fusarium stalk rot

  • Timing of Fusarium stalk rot

  • How to chemically manage Fusarium stalk rot

How Does Fusarium Stalk Rot Impact Corn Plants?

  • Stalks: The disease primarily weakens the stalks, causing them to become brittle. This can lead to lodging, making the plants more susceptible to further damage from wind and rain.

  • Leaves: The leaves of infected plants may show wilting and discoloration. This can decrease photosynthesis, leading to reduced grain fill and lower yields.

  • Ears and Kernels: In some instances, the disease can also infect the ears and kernels, leading to reduced grain quality. Infected kernels may display a pinkish to reddish discoloration, and may contain mycotoxins that can be harmful if consumed.

  • Roots: The roots of infected plants may also be affected, leading to reduced water and nutrient uptake.

How to Identify Fusarium Stalk Rot 

Fusarium stalk rot usually appears as a reddish to pinkish discoloration in the pith. As the disease advances, the pith becomes shredded, assuming a "stringy" appearance. In severe cases, the pith may disintegrate entirely, leaving only the vascular bundles.

The initial visible symptom of Fusarium stalk rot is typically wilting, followed by the plant's premature death. The leaves may also show a grayish to reddish discoloration. Another common symptom is stalk breakage or lodging, especially during periods of high wind or heavy rain.

To verify Fusarium stalk rot presence, perform a simple "push" or "pinch" test. If the stalk can be easily crushed by pinching, or if the plant bends or breaks when pushed at an angle, it is likely infected with Fusarium stalk rot.

Geographic Impact of Fusarium Stalk Rot 

Fusarium stalk rot can occur in any region where corn is grown. However, it is more prevalent in warm, humid climates, and in fields with a history of the disease. 

Timing of Fusarium Stalk Rot 

The disease typically emerges in the mid to late growing season, especially during periods of high temperature and humidity.

How to Manage Fusarium Stalk Rot

While there are no specific products currently available from FBN® labeled for use with corn for managing Fusarium stalk rot, some products containing fluxapyroxad and pyraclostrobin are labeled for use with corn for seed rot caused by Fusarium, including: 

Crop Protection from FBN

Proactively scouting for and responding to fungal presence in your fields will help reduce potential crop damage and improve yield. FBN has a wide variety of effective fungicides to help address agronomic pressures and keep your operation on track. 

With transparent pricing, straightforward online ordering, detailed product labels and fast direct-to-farm delivery, FBN can help you get the products you need to protect your crops.


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FBN Network

Jan 03, 2024