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Managing Costly Northern Corn Leaf Blight

March 4, 2021

Northern corn leaf blight in corn

Corn diseases, such as Northern corn leaf blight (NCLB), are an ongoing threat throughout the growing season. NCLB can cause yield loss, particularly in susceptible hybrids or inbreds, as well as significant grain loss if hybrids become infected prior to silking. Severe infections can also compromise the plant’s moisture levels and cause headaches all the way through harvest, as stalk-cannibalization can increase lodging risk.

Though its presence is possible any year, NCLB is most damaging if there are prolonged periods of dew and moderate temperatures in the 64-80° F range. The pathogen that causes NCLB – the fungus Exserohilum turcicum – overwinters on corn debris, making continuous cornfields particularly vulnerable to infection.

Know Your Enemy

It is important to become familiar with NCLB symptoms as they are sometimes confused with Diplodia leaf streak, southern corn leaf blight, and Stewart’s or Goss’s wilt. While symptoms will vary depending on hybrid susceptibility, there are a few tell-tale signs to keep an eye on.

During onset, NCLB often appears parallel to leaf margins in long, narrow, tan lesions. As these lesions develop, they will become cigar-shaped and tan or gray in color. Lesions can be 1-7” long.

This agronomic image shows northern corn leaf blight damagel

Multiple lesions may form on a leaf and may merge to form large areas of dead tissue.

This agronomic image shows northern corn leaf blight damagel

Management Tips for Success

While resistant hybrids are important tools to combat NCLB, corn fungicides play a crucial role as well. Disease onset around silking makes this disease’s effects much worse, so an R1 fungicide application helps mitigate disease risk and promote plant health.

There are 2 products we recommend to manage NCLB. Miravis® Neo fungicide controls many common corn diseases including NCLB, gray leaf spot, rusts and tar spot and it suppresses Fusarium ear rot. Trivapro® fungicide offers long-lasting residual control as well as broad-spectrum preventive and curative disease protection against key foliar corn diseases. Both products also provide excellent plant-health benefits, maximizing yield potential by helping plants better manage stress, such as drought.

With strategic hybrid selection and a well-timed application of Miravis Neo or Trivapro, you can stay ahead of NCLB and other costly corn diseases.

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