New disease threatens corn crops

Colorado State University scientists got grant funding to study a new disease threatening corn yields.

KUSA - Colorado State University received grant funding to research a newly discovered disease that's affecting corn crops in Colorado and other states.

Bacterial leaf streak, caused by the bacteria Xanthomonas vasicola pv vasculorum, was officially discovered in the United States last year.

"We also started noticing quite a bit of spread and dispersal in the end of the 2016 production year," said Kirk Broders Assistant professor of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management. "It spread into eastern Nebraska as well as into Iowa and Illinois and then North Dakota and then we also had a few detections in Texas." 

Broders is leading a team of researchers who will study the disease and its impact.

"The biggest damage it does is it creates all these lesions on the leaves which then limit photosynthetic capacity which then can potentially reduce the size and number of kernels in the ear," said Broders.

It's been found on field corn, sweet corn, popcorn, and volunteer corn in several states, but because it is so new there's been little research on management strategies to limit its spread.

CSU received emergency grant funding to study the disease from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research. The University of Nebraska and the University of Illinois will collaborate on projects led by CSU.

"We have seen fairly significant disease in that area of northeastern Colorado and southwestern Nebraska ," said Broders. "Where we see the most significant disease is on pop corn and then there is a few varieties of field corn that have also seem to be highly susceptible."

They're hoping to determine which types of corn are more resistant to the bacteria and disease.

"If growers continue to grow susceptible varieties, not only will they lose yield but the inoculum levels of the bacteria will continue to increase causing greater epidemics for everybody else. 407 therefore the entire corn growing community could end up with yield losses and that could certainly impact. farm incomes as well as profitability of corn production."

According to CSU, South Africa is the only other country where the disease has been reported.

 

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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