The Q&A Archives: Smut in Corn

Question: Last year nearly half of my ears were ruined. Can it be prevented? I rotate my crops.

Answer: Corn smut (Sphacelotheca reiliana) is a fungus that survives as spores in soil for 5 to 7 years. The spores are windblown so can travel far distances. Infection occurs at temperatures of 68F to 86F degrees. There are several corn varieties that are resistant to smut: 'Goldie' and 'Blitz' are most resistant, 'Reliance' is another. Try pre-germinating your seed between damp paper towels and then planting shallow (1 inch) in your soil. The seedling stage is the most susceptible stage. Keep the seedbed moist for the first 4 weeks after planting, and try to plant upwind of infected garden beds.<br><br>Hope you have a better harvest next year. Incidentally, corn smut is a trendy new food found on the menus of expensive restaurants!

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