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Recognize and Manage Goss’s Bacterial Wilt in Cornqrcode

Jul. 3, 2012

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Jul. 3, 2012

Expectations about corn yields are at a pretty high level and given the numerous positive crop estimates, 2012 looks like a great year to be a corn grower.

However, the increasing presence of Goss’s bacterial wilt is casting a shadow on 2012 corn prospects.  Since 2008, Goss’s bacterial wilt and blight which was first observed in Nebraska corn fields in 1969, has spread across the primary corn-growing states.  And, as of June 2012, Goss’s bacterial wilt has been confirmed in Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and south central and eastern Nebraska. The latter was reported in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s CropWatch.  In the article, researchers commented that the disease doesn’t usually appear this early in the season and that yields can be more negatively impacted the earlier it occurs in a plant’s growth stages.

The most important fact to remember about Goss’s bacterial wilt is that it is a bacteria and not a fungus. Goss’s bacterial wilt is caused by the bacterium, Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. Nebraskensis and occurs either as leaf blight or vascular wilt on corn plants.

Accurate and early identification of Goss’s bacterial wilt is critical. The increasing threat of Goss’s bacterial wilt is causing growers to proactively identify the disease and protect corn crop yields. It has two distinct phases: a leaf blight phase and a systemic wilt phase. Leaf blight is the most commonly observed and most damaging symptom and usually appears mid-season. Lesions extend along leaf veins and first appear as long, gray-green water-soaked streaks with wavy margins. Smaller, darker water-soaked flecks, often referred to as freckles, are apparent inside the larger lesion. Corn plants in the systemic wilt phase will show drought stress symptoms and wilt or die prematurely.

Watch the Purdue University video about identifying Goss’s bacterial wilt in corn. Because the symptoms are easily confused with other diseases, it’s important to have careful field examination or to send a sample into your local plant pathology lab to confirm the diagnosis.



As the incidence of Goss’s bacterial wilt increases, so do crop losses. According to an article by plant pathologists at Purdue University, “ In 2008, Goss’s bacterial leaf and wilt blight caused yield losses of up to 60 bushels/acre in northwestern Indiana, providing that this bacterial disease can cause substantial yield loss in the state.”

A recent discussion that Engage Agro USA had on this subject with Alison Robertson, an Iowa State University Extension Pathologist shed even more light on this problem. She estimates that in 2011 Goss’s bacterial wilt caused $60M in Iowa crop losses, however others think the Iowa loss may have been two or three times this amount.

Prevent or reduce Goss’s bacterial wilt. No methods are available to control Goss’s bacterial wilt so preventing or reducing infection with good foliar nutrition is essential. A well-balanced nutrient program that includes 42PHI™ Cu can aid plants with additional nutrition during peak demand periods and correct imbalances before yield loss occurs.  Whether the disease is already present in a corn field or not, applying a foliar nutrient such as 42PHI™ Cu, a copper based fertilizer available from Engage Agro USA, can help ward off further infection and promote new growth and yield.

42PHI™ Cu can be applied at all stages of growth, but application at the first signs of plant stress due to this bacteria is essential.  Foliar nutritional plant health for an investment of less than the cost of 1 ½ bushels of corn per acres gives multiple economic returns in many high risk situations.

42PHI™ Cu and is a powerful tool for optimizing plant health and protecting the established yield of your corn crop.

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