An infestation that was found in some southern Nebraska corn fields this summer appears -not- to have taken a strong hold as the harvest is now underway.
The disease called Goss’s Wilt was confined to eastern Colorado and western Nebraska until 2008, when it spread eastward, infecting farms all across the corn belt. Plant pathologist Alison Robertson says modern hybrid corn varieties may be to blame for the resurgence.
“Because Goss’s Wilt wasn’t a widespread problem, the breeders didn’t pick up that these hybrids were very susceptible,” Robertson says.
There are resistant hybrids on the market now, but the disease remains a concern. Even as its occurrence in the traditional corn belt has diminished with the dry conditions, Robertson says it’s spreading — and appeared in Louisiana for the first time this year.
“This disease is still continuing to pop its head up at places where it shouldn’t be popping its head up and so we need to whack the mole,” she says.
Rotating corn with soybeans or alfalfa and then planting a resistant hybrid is a good recipe for preventing recurrence, according to Robertson. She points to the very dry conditions from the continued drought as one possible factor for the disease not doing more damage.
The disease, which was first identified in western Nebraska, has been found as far east in recent years as Wisconsin and Illinois.