think my grazing corn crop is rotting,” said Tim, a farmer who owns a mixed operation of cattle and grain south of Regina. He called me
in early November of last year after noticing something was wrong with a half section while fencing off the crop for grazing. “The field doesn’t smell right,” he said, inviting me to visit his farm the next day.
Tim produces cereals, pulses, oilseeds, hay and grazing corn on his 3,000-acre farm. When I arrived at the field, at first glance there were very few symptoms of the actual problem. I noticed the corn had been considerably damaged by hail because the stalks were bent over or broken off. Although the crop was damaged, it still should have been acceptable for grazing. But Tim’s field had a distinct musty smell. I checked the bases of some of the stems in the half section and I found mould growing, but overall I thought this growth was minor.
According to Tim, the hailstorm had taken place in early July of that year. Tim thought the crop might be rotting due to the damage inflicted on the crop by the hail. To begin diagnosing the problem in his field, I checked its history with Tim. Corn had not been seeded on this half section in four years. In 2009, the north quarter was seeded to durum and the south quarter to canola — Tim noted durum was under very high disease pressure that year.
Saskatchewan’s 2010 growing season will be remembered as a very wet year with ideal conditions for the spread of disease. I broke open one of the stalks of corn near an area damaged by hail and I knew immediately what the problem was.
I tipped the stalk toward Tim and he slowly shook
his head at the orange and pink lining present on the inside of the stem. But before jumping to any hasty conclusions, we decided it was best to send a sample of the infection to the appropriate laboratory. I wasn’t surprised when the tests confirmed my suspicions.
What’s causing Tim’s grazing corn to smell off and the inside of the stalks to turn orange and pink? Can anything be done to save Tim’s corn? Send your diagnosis toGrainews,Box 9800, Winnipeg, MB, R3C 3K7; email [email protected] or fax 204-944-5416 c/o Crop Advisor’s Casebook. Best suggestions will be pooled and one winner will be drawn for a chance to win aGrainewscap and a one-year subscription to the magazine. The best answer, along with the reasoning which solved the mystery, will appear in the next Crop Advisor’s Solution File.
The inside of the hail-damaged stalks were pink and orange.