National Network Provides Update On Devastating Corn Disease

May 01, 1998

St. Paul, MN (April 30, 1998) -- Research aimed at monitoring the devastating corn disease, gray leaf spot, indicates development of hybrids with genetic resistance is feasible and when combined with crop rotation, yield losses can be reduced. Conducted by a national network of plant pathologists from universities, USDA-Agriculture Research Services and seed companies, this cooperative effort began in response to the major gray leaf spot epidemic that affected the U.S. Corn Belt nearly two years ago and continues to remain a major threat to corn production.

"The findings are significant for several reasons," says Patrick Lipps, plant pathologist and member of the NCR-25 Committee responsible for the updated information. "We realized that hybrids responded similarly across environments which tells us that hybrids with resistance to local fungal populations will have a resistant reaction at other locations as well. This is key for corn breeders. Using resistant hybrids in combination with crop rotation will definitely restrict yield losses."

Although the fungus which causes this disease, Cercospora zeae-maydis, has been around since 1925, its incidence didn?t accelerate until corn acreage was increasingly placed into conservation tillage during the 1980?s. However, Lipps insists, "Growers should continue to use conservation tillage wherever practical. Unless environmental conditions are extremely favorable for gray leaf spot development, the economic and environmental advantages of conservation tillage clearly outweigh the risk of loss due to the disease."

The NCR-25 committee recommends taking the following steps to minimize disease:For the complete NCR-25 Report, Gray Leaf Spot of Corn: An Update, visit the home page of the American Phytopathological Society (APS) at The American Phytopathological Society is a professional scientific organization dedicated to the study and control of plant disease with more than 5,000 members worldwide.

American Phytopathological Society

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