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Fusarium Stalk Rot

© Purdue University, Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory

Pathogen(s) causing disease:

Fusarium moniliforme


The leaves turn from a healthy green color to a dull green and the lower stalk becomes yellowed. Premature plant death may occur and lodging due to disintegration of the internal stalk pith tissue; when squeezed between the thumb and index finger at the lower nodes, the stalk often collapses. Mycelium is often seen at the nodes. When split open the stalks may reveal a pink discoloration often confused with the red color of Gibberella stalk rot.


Warm, moist weather shortly after pollination. More prevalent when plants are subjected to stresses (such as dry weather) that result in early senescence and a reduction of sugar to roots and stalks. Temperatures ranging from 80° to 100° F.


Resistant hybrids if they are available. Full season hybrids tend to have more resistance than short season. Balanced soil fertility. Plant populations should not exceed 28,000 to 32,000 plants per acre in fields known to have a history of stalk rot. Minimize stress on plants: Common stresses that lead to stalk rot include; high nitrogen, low potassium fertility, high moisture in the mid to late season after a dry early season, moisture stress early in the season and during grain fill, high leaf disease incidence. Physical damage that creates wounds allowing the pathogen to enter such as insect damage or hail storms may also predispose corn plants to stalk rot.


Purdue University
University of Nebraska - Lincoln

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