Northern Corn Leaf Blight


Northern Corn Leaf Blight (NCLB), a disease instigated by the fungus Exserohilum turcicum, can trigger significant corn yield losses, impacting both the quantity and quality of harvest. Intense infections can lead to substantial yield losses, slashing corn yields by up to 50%.

NCLB primarily targets the leaves of the corn plant, but it can also invade the husks, sheaths, and tassels. The disease diminishes the photosynthetic area of the plant, potentially leading to smaller ears and lightweight, nutrient-deficient kernels.

The lesions triggered by NCLB can merge, creating large areas of dead leaf tissue. This can reduce the plant's photosynthetic capacity, leading to stunted growth and reduced yield. In severe cases, the disease can cause premature plant death.

By diminishing the plant's photosynthetic area, NCLB can severely impact the plant's ability to produce and store energy. This can result in reduced kernel development and overall yield loss. Additionally, the disease can weaken the plant's natural defenses, making it more vulnerable to other diseases and pests.

How to Identify Northern Corn Leaf Blight

Prompt detection of NCLB is vital for effective control. NCLB manifests as long, elliptical, grey-green or tan lesions on the leaves. These lesions can vary from 1 to 6 inches long and about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide. As the disease advances, the lesions darken to tan or gray and may appear slightly fuzzy due to the presence of fungal spores.

The first hints of NCLB typically surface after silking. Early symptoms include small, diamond-shaped lesions on the lower leaves. As the disease advances, these lesions elongate and adopt a more elliptical shape.

Geographic Impact of Northern Corn Leaf Blight

NCLB flourishes in areas with high humidity and moderate temperatures, typically between 64-81°F. It's common in the Corn Belt region of the United States, including states like Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.

Timing of Northern Corn Leaf Blight

NCLB usually emerges in the mid-to-late growing season, particularly during periods of extended leaf wetness. Early infections can occur but are generally less severe than those that arise later in the season.

How to Manage Northern Corn Leaf Blight

To manage Northern Corn Leaf Blight, our experts recommend GCS Azoxyprop and Willowood Teb at silk emergence or tassel emergence.


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This content was generated with the assistance of Norm℠, FBN’s artificial intelligence (AI) Ag Advisor, based on a dataset of information containing general industry best practices and research. The AI model did not use specific external sources to generate this content. Our process involves using AI to aid human subject matter experts with the initial drafting and/or refinement of content.

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