As we enter the final days of the 2016 growing season, farmers need to start scouting fields for corn ear molds and mycotoxins.
According to the Michigan State University Extension, Gibberella ear rot and Fusarium ear rot are the primary culprits in Michigan’s crops this year. Insects can also do damage, including the western bean cutworm– creating wounds for potential fungal infections.
The Extension advises farmers to visit five points throughout the field and pull the husks back on 20 ears, for 100 ears per field. Farmers should inspect for ear rot and then consult the Crop Protection Network corn disease guides.
If ear mold is present, fields should be harvested early and grain should be segregated. Combine adjustments can be made to discard lightweight diseased kernels. Grain moisture should be lowered to less than 15 percent to minimize additional mycotoxin accumulation.
For long-term storage, moisture should be brought down to less than 13 percent and cooled to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Grain should be tested for mycotoxins when fields with ear rot problems are detected. For information on grain sampling and mycotoxins, see the Grain Sampling and Mycotoxin Testing Guide.