Dealing with Devil’s Corn in Your Garden

Did you notice some strange growth on the corn growing in your garden? Chances are you have the smell of corn, often called “devil’s corn” by farmers because of how destructive this fungus is.

Nickname is appropriate. When corn smut hits the corn field, it destroys the crop. The cubs are ugly and not edible; No one wants that on their dinner table. In addition, corn will not be suitable for freezing or canning.

It really is the devil.

Make sure you know all about this fungal disease when growing corn and how to prevent it in your garden before it destroys your crop.

What is Corn Smut?

Corn smut is a fungal disease caused by a fungus called Ustilago Medis Which appears on the stalk, leaves, tussle or ears of the plant. It is a highly contagious disease that destroys your crop.

The fungus spreads quickly, forming on nearby plants and releasing spores that remain in the soil for years.

Corn smut is found in Mexico and southern parts of the United States. It usually appears in late summer, just before the corn is ready for harvesting. The kernels distort and form galls and lumps around them.

believe me; This makes the corn completely inedible.

However, this is not the whole story. Some enterprising (or overly hungry) human discovered that infected corn ears are a delicious delicacy with a tangy flavor. In some regions, they are considered to be similar to mushrooms (it is a fungus, after all) and are used in things like tacos.

Some chefs actively seek out corn flakes for recipes. Those who love Mexican cuisine will be happy to know that the fungus growth is a delicacy known as hitlacoche, Mexican truffle, or Mexican caviar. People in Central America have been using it for centuries in everything from soups and main dishes to desserts.

It tastes like a mixture of corn and mushrooms.

But you grew corn because you want to eat corn, not mushrooms, right? Unfortunately, it is a challenging, if not impossible, fungus to prevent once it grows.

The fungus likes a rise in temperature in the middle of summer. So when the temperature is between 80 and 90 °F, the spores come to life and flourish.

What causes corn smut?

fungus You. medis (Cause of corn smut) is a long-lived fungus that thrives in soil.

The spores are spread through the wind, splashing water and manure. If animals eat corn infected with corn smut, their feces will contain spores. Never use this compost when amending your garden!

The fungus enters your corn through various entry points. Any injury is a weak spot, but silk is also an entry point, so it’s hard to prevent.

Certain conditions and conditions increase the chances of corn smut in your garden.

  • too much or too little rain
  • lack of fertilizer in the soil
  • soil high in nitrogen
  • Poor pollination due to lack of pollinating insects or dry conditions

Getting rid of corn smut is challenging and nearly impossible, so your goal should be to prevent it from spotting your corn patch in the first place. With the right practices, your healthy corn plants will stay as they are. If worse comes, consider indulging in a Mexican truffle and selling it to local chefs in the area!

Symptoms of Corn Smut in Your Garden

Corn smut is fairly easy to spot.

The most notable symptom is that the ears produce mushroom-like tumors or galls on the ears. At first, these gills look like small, whitish-gray irregularities on the ears. Over time, they spread and turn black, filled with spores.

The ear gills are large – they are usually four to five inches in diameter. Eventually, they break down and release thousands of spores everywhere. The wind carries the spores and infects other corn plants in the area.

Sometimes, instead of ears, gills form on the leaves and they remain small. These gills become hard and dry instead of growing and bursting.

How to get rid of corn smell?

The problem with corn smut is how easy it is and stays in the soil. This fungus overwinters in garden debris and soil. Spores are spread through hot, dry weather, through winter, rain, and irrigation.

Once in your garden, the spores live for five to seven years, and there is only an injury or an opening point on your plant for the fungus to enter.

Unfortunately, fungicides are not an effective option for this disease because it is so widespread and stays in the soil for so long.

remove galls

The first step you need to take to get rid of corn smut is to collect and remove galls before they grow. You want to stop the spread in your garden, so removing them before they burst and release spores helps a lot. In addition, it helps to break the disease cycle.

As they prepare to release the spores, the gills at the ends darken slightly. Get rid of them before this point.

Remove and destroy garden debris and plants.

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to save your plants and get rid of this fungus at the same time. The best route is usually to remove and destroy all infected plants and garden debris.

Yes, you do need to remove infected corn plants and burn them or put them in a bag. Never put these plants in compost. Make sure you collect all plant debris on the soil, and I would consider removing the mulch under the plants as an extra precaution.

Avoid Fungicides

You may have read that applying fungicide is a good idea, but it is not an effective way to get rid of corn smut. The disease is widespread, and while fungicides will slow or stop the disease at a very early stage, you will need to treat it as soon as it is effective.

If it is effective, what is the problem?

Most people do not notice the smell of corn until tumors and galls develop on the ears or leaves. By this time, fungicides are no longer effective, no matter how much and how often you apply.

Copper or sulfur fungicides worked weekly for the early stages before galls or tumors develop. That’s why some gardeners apply fungicides to their gardens as a preventative measure.

how to prevent corn smut

Corn smut is hard to get rid of, so preventing this fungus from finding your garden is the best option. Here are some preventive measures to take.

plant resistant varieties

Some varieties of corn are more resistant than others. Smut infects all types of corn, including farm and sweet corn. Here are some of the most popular varieties that are resistant:

  • Silver
  • Very good
  • Imagination
  • Ancient
  • Seneca Sensation
  • silver prince

Some say that SE (sugar enhanced) varieties are more likely to be resistant than others.

reduce transition points

Understand that fungi and bacteria enter our plants through injuries, so you need to be careful around your plants during cultivation and maintenance. If you injure roots, stalks or leaves, it gives spores a place to enter your plant.

Take great care around your plants.

keep pests out of your garden

Keeping pests away from your garden helps prevent damage. Unfortunately, some insects, such as corn borers, cause serious damage and encourage the development of corn smut.

Corn borers are particularly destructive because it creates many different entry points for fungus to enter.

practice crop rotation

Some people think that crop rotation is not for small gardens, but it is. This is easy to do and helps prevent the spread of fungus and diseases. Corn smut only infects corn, so re-planting corn in the same area is going to cause trouble.

Rotate your crops every year!

Always use balanced organic fertilizer

When there is too much nitrogen in your soil, corn smut is more likely. Therefore, it is best to use a balanced, organic fertilizer that does not contain too much of one ingredient. Aged manure is ideal for growing corn.

If you use too much nitrogen in your garden, balance it by adding more phosphorus to your soil. Phosphorus reduces the risk of smut in your garden.

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