With most of the U.S. corn crop in the ground and emergence rates well ahead of the five-year average, now is the time to scout for early-season diseases. Stress responses due to extremely dry conditions in several areas of the Corn Belt can lead to physiological plant distress. Alternatively, some areas have received ample rainfall, causing farmers to weather pest issues not seen in a while.

The top 3 corn seedling diseases, Pythium, Fusarium and Rhizoctonia, are significant yield robbers that operate underground. Pythium infection causes damping off, leading to corn yield loss from reduced plant stands and lower plant populations. The top four signs of Pythium include:

  1. The plant’s top leaf growing out of a whorl that is wilted or dead.
  2. The entire plant is wilting.
  3. The plant whorl is tightly wrapped and not opening.
  4. There are gaps in the row where plants are missing.

Read more on early-season corn seedling disease signs here.