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The Only Constant Is Change

Amanda Huber, Editor

Amanda Huber, Editor

I read a quote that describes the business of farming: “It’s funny how day by day, nothing changes. But when you look back, everything is different.” Year by year, you seem to do pretty much the same thing – acreage and crops may change with rotations, weather is always a questionable factor and farm policy changes every few years. Otherwise, it just seems the roll along as normal.

But when you stop to think about it, that’s probably not the case at all. There’s new equipment with its technology upgrades and integration. New products and cropping systems come out every few years as well. Then there are those changes you would rather not have. I’m thinking
mainly of herbicide-resistant weeds, such as Palmer amaranth, and the spreading of disease problems, such as the finding just a couple years ago of a bacterial corn disease new to the South.

With a previous range of Nebraska to Indiana and from southern Minnesota to the panhandle of Texas, the 2013 discovery of Goss’s Wilt disease in northeastern Louisiana was the first in the Deep South.

This disease can have two distinct phases: a leaf blight phase and a systemic wilt phase, with leaf blight being the most commonly observed. Corn plants will exhibit long, large, tan lesions in the centers or on the edges of leaf blades. The margins of these lesions may have a water-soaked appearance. Black flecks, or freckles, can be observed within the lesions, but cannot be rubbed off. Leaf blight symptoms can also be easily misidentified as a nutrient deficiency, chemical injury or another disease.

In the systemic wilt phase, infected plants may exhibit drought stress symptoms and wilt or die prematurely.

Best management strategies include planting hybrids with partial resistance to the disease. Rotating out of corn production for one year and tillage and other practices will help decompose residue and reduce the amount of bacteria present. Because Goss’s wilt is bacterial in nature, fungicides will not work.

For more information on this disease, go to LSUagcenter.com or talk with your state Extension plant pathologist or your parish or county Extension agent. It’s just one more possible change to watch out for in 2015.