Answer: Sounds like you're dealing with corn smut, a fungal disease that will survive in the soil 5-7 years, and will infect subsequent corn crops. The fungal spores can be carried by wind, and can infect corn growing quite a distance away. In some cultures corn smut is eaten and considered quite a delicacy! You should remove and destroy the affected plants, to eliminate the possibility of spread. Next year plant your corn in a different part of the garden. Try planting resistant varieties like 'Goldie' or 'Blitz'. If you can control the amount of moisture in the soil, try to keep it on the dry side early in the season. Moist soil and warm growing conditions favor the development of smut. Better luck next year!
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