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Harvest 2009 – moldy corn

November 6, 2009
From Wayne Schoper, Brown/Nicollet Extension Educator

Every cropping year is different and this year is no exception. The phenomenon we are seeing this year in area corn fields is the growth of a gray to black colored mold on the ears of corn as the plants stand in the field waiting to be harvested. This is because of several factors including the late harvest, high moisture corn and continuing wet harvest conditions. There are two questions that need to be answered. First, are the problems at this point significant ear and kernel rots that are damaging the kernels, or is the problem primarily superficial growth of fungi on the kernel surface? Both types of fungal growth on corn can cause greater problems with grain quality if the corn is not harvested and dried properly. The current problem with the gray mold appearing on the ears of corn in the field appears to be a superficial mold that has not gotten into the kernels as of yet. This type of mold is an opportunistic pathogen that shows up when wet conditions such as what we have been experiencing for the last several weeks shows up. It also appears to be several different species of fungi that are taking advantage of the wet, nutrient-rich environment that they need in order to grow. Once the corn is harvested, they should stop growing. If the corn is not stored and properly dried or is damaged, they may continue to grow and reduce grain quality. Depending on the type of fungus and the storage environment, these funguses may continue to grow and could potentially produce mycotoxins.



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