Goss's Bacterial Wilt and Leaf Blight

Something went wrong. Please try again later...

Symptoms of Goss's Wilt

Distinguishing features of Goss's Wilt lesions

Distinguishing features of Goss’s Wilt lesions

  • Freckles – dark green to black water-soaked spots, often near lesion edges (white arrows)
  • Shiny exudate – bacteria ooze to leaf surface and may appear shiny after drying (black arrows)


  • Disease is caused by a bacterial pathogen that overwinters in residue of corn and several grasses
  • Historically, damage to corn had been confined mostly to the Great Plains states
  • In recent years, significant crop damage has also been reported in central Corn Belt states
  • Depending on conditions, may cause only minor problems or devastating damage with grain yield losses approaching 50%
Historical and current range of Goss's wilt in North America

Historical and current range of Goss's wilt in North America.

Goss’s Wilt Disease Development

  • Plant wounding from wind, sandblasting and especially hail provide openings for bacteria
  • Insects are not known to be a factor in spread or development of this disease
  • Wet weather and high humidity encourage development
  • There are two phases of the disease
    • Systemic wilt (less common)
    • Later season foliar blight

Systemic Wilt Phase

  • Less common than foliar phase
  • Can cause large losses, especially in susceptible hybrids
  • May cause a slimy stalk rot, especially in seedlings
  • May cause plant death
  • Plants wilt due to vascular infection with bacteria
  • Vascular bundles may have orange coloration that turns brown to black after disease progresses
Vascular bundle discoloration from Goss's Wilt

Later Season Foliar Blight

  • Water-soaked streaks may appear first followed by gray or brown/tan lesions
  • Lesions are elongated with wavy margins that follow leaf veins
  • General lesion shape may resemble Stewart’s Wilt lesions
  • Foliar lesions may progress to foliar blighting, killing large amounts of the canopy and predisposing plants to stalk rots
Goss's wilt
Stewart's wilt

Disease Cycle

Goss's wilt disease cycle

Goss’s Wilt Management

  • Genetic resistance
    • Primary management method
    • Pioneer researchers inoculate, screen and rate hybrids for resistance
    • Hybrids are also rated under natural infestations in affected states
    • See your local Pioneer sales professional for help in selecting appropriate hybrids for your field
  • Reduce corn residue
    • Disease can become problematic in corn on corn, high-residue fields
    • Crop rotation is effective in reducing residue
    • Tillage encourages residue breakdown
  • Control grassy weeds that are hosts for the bacteria
    • Green foxtail, barnyardgrass, shattercane and others
  • Prevention/Avoidance
    • Harvest and till affected fields last and clean equipment to avoid spreading the pathogen to uninfested fields
  • Fungicide application IS NOT EFFECTIVE for this bacterial disease. Other materials are being tested.