Wet areas of Ontario at risk for gibberella infection in corn


Could 2019 be another ‘gibb’ year for corn growers?

That’s a question RealAgriculture agronomist Peter Johnson encounters almost daily. When asked, he says there’s “not a chance” of the widespread gibberella outbreak Ontario growers experienced in 2018. However, he notes that “in isolated areas, we do have a high risk of gibberella ear rot infection and potential DON accumulation.”

Johnson joined RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney on Monday to discuss the potential for another gibberella-infected harvest in the province this fall. He explains that 2018 produced a perfect storm for the disease to gain a foothold in fields across the province. “We were dry right up to when corn tasseled — July 20 — and then it turned wet and humid.” The weather conditions were optimal for growing conditions and record yields, but with the water and humidity, also came ideal gibberella ear rot conditions.

(Listen to Shaun Haney and Peter Johnson discuss the potential for gibberella infection in Ontario on RealAg Radio. Story continues after the interview.)

How does 2019 compare? A difficult Ontario spring delayed planting, which has, in turn, delayed corn tasselling. Johnson says when you add in higher humidity at pollination and cooler August nights, “you tilt the deck in terms of getting the disease in the crop.”

“On the other side of the coin, there are areas that are super dry; there are areas where the corn is burning up,” says Johnson. “If it’s that dry, the humidity in the corn crop is probably pretty low. When it’s dry with low humidity, temperature no longer matters — in those areas, the risk of gibberella is quite minimal.”

Johnson warns, however, that there are wet areas across the province. “In these rain zones they have lots of moisture; there’s humidity, the corn is tasselling now, temperatures are right — here the gibb risk is really quite significant.”

In the interview, Haney and Johnson also look back at the 2018 harvest and identify the winning DON management strategies that allowed growers to optimize financial returns and minimize management headaches for the 2019 crop.




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