Head Smut

Symptoms of Head Smut

Head Smut symptoms first appear when ears and tassels are formed. Galls form on the tassels and ears and rarely on the leaves. At first they are covered with a thin layer of tissue that breaks open to expose the black spore masses and threadlike remains of the vascular bundles. Plants also may be severely dwarfed.

Head Smut


Facts on Head Smut

Head smut develops systemically into the ear and tassel. Low soil moisture and temperatures between 70 and 82 F are optimum for infection. Disease is most common in soils with nitrogen deficiencies.

Life Cycle

The fungus overwinters in soil as teliospores and infects the growing point of young seedlings.

Management of Head Smut

Most hybrids grown in the United States are fairly resistant. Rotation will reduce the buildup of inoculum, but some strains of the fungus can infect both corn and sorghum.