Anthracnose Stalk Rot

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Symptoms - Early Season

  • Same fungus may cause a foliar disease early in the season
Anthracnose Symptoms

Symptoms - Midseason

  • Top-down symptom of plant death often observed a few weeks after tasseling ("top dieback" )
anthracnose stalk rot in corn field

Symptoms – Late Season

  • Shiny black coloration on outside of stalk late in season
  • Internal stalk discoloration at nodes
  • Stalk may be easily crushed when squeezed at base
  • Stalk may lodge when pushed sideways
corn stalk with anthracnose stalk rot
Shiny black coloration on outside of stalk late in season is a symptom of anthracnose stalk rot.

Identification of Anthracnose Stalk Rot

  • For a positive identification of the disease with a hand lens, look for the presence of setae, which are bristlelike hair structures on the stalk surface.
Setae are often found within a mucouslike droplet.
setae on stalk surface
If a microscope is available, look for clear, curved spores (below).
Identification curved spores photo

Anthracnose Facts

  • Caused by Colletotrichum graminicola, a fungal pathogen
  • Most common stalk disease of corn
  • Favored by plant stress following pollination
  • Disease development may result in:
    • Plant lodging
    • Reduced ability to harvest
    • Yield reduction

Disease Cycle of Anthracnose Stalk Rot

anthracnose stalk rot disease cycle

Management of Anthracnose Stalk Rot

  • Crop rotation - at least 1 year out of corn
  • Tillage - encourages breakdown of crop residue, reducing disease inoculum
  • Genetic Resistance
    • Pioneer plant breeders select hybrids and parent lines for resistance, using induced and natural infection.
    • Pioneer pathologists assist breeders in their efforts to inoculate, screen and characterize products.
    • Hybrids differ significantly in resistance to anthracnose. Scores for Pioneer® brand hybrids generally range from 2 to 7 on a 1 to 9 scale (9=resistant).
    • Your Pioneer sales professional can help you select high-yielding hybrids with the appropriate level of disease resistance and other key traits needed for your field.

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