by Jessica Skidmore, Sustainable Plant Systems major

With the cool, wet summer eastern Ohio has seen so far, farmers are worried about running into a disease that may show up later on, Pythium. It starts with the roots and works its way up through the plant. The disease can live in the ground overwinter and will reproduce in the spring when the conditions are right.

Pythium severity depends on how wet the soil is and for how long. It is also able to reproduce in a wide range of temperatures. Along with having the cool wet weather this year, corn was able to be planted starting mid-April which is early compared to other years and makes the conditions favorable for Pythium. . If the conditions aren’t right then the Pythium does not  reproduce as fast.

The disease is bad for the corn because it can kill the plant in the early growth or can reduce the yields. This can also show up later in the season when farmers think that they are in the ‘clear’ for plant diseases or in need of replanting. When corn is affected by Pythium, the mesocotyl is targeted and affects how well the main root system will grow.

This fungus can be controlled by many different practices. Planting in tilled ground heats up the ground quicker and dries it out more which would lower the chance of the fungus repopulating in the spring. The type of hybrid can also protect the seed for almost two weeks of the fungus being present in the soil.When certain fields are usually wet then they should be well drained to also help control. If fields have had the fungus in the past then they should be checked in the following years when the conditions are right for this fungus to reproduce to ensure another outbreak would not happen.

This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

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