Corn School: Leaf Blight Defence Starts With Genetics

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Choosing the right genetics is the most important decision growers make when tackling leaf diseases such as northern corn leaf blight (NCLB).

Fungicides applied in-season can provide both curative and preventative benefits, but the battle to fend off yield-robbing leaf diseases starts with your seed choice explains, OMAFRA field pathologist Albert Tenuta.

In this episode of the Real Agriculture Corn School, we talk with Tenuta as he compares how different NCLB genes protect plants in the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown campus research plots. Here Tenuta evaluates a number of different corn lines with different resistance genes for NCLB.

Tenuta explains there are now nine different races of NCLB in Ontario that can bypass the most common resistance gene – Ht1 – used by seed companies. In the nursery, he illustrates how different resistance genes are able to keep the disease from damaging the plant. He adds that many of these resistance genes are available and seed companies have them. The big challenge he faces is to identify which NCLB races are currently in Ontario so seed companies can choose the right genes and keep their grower customers one step ahead of the disease.

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