Production Blog

New Illinois Corn Disease: Bacterial Stripe Found

Pam Smith
By  Pam Smith , Crops Technology Editor
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Bacterial stripe foliar symptoms appear very similar to other bacterial leaf pathogens, but it is the first time the disease has been discovered in Illinois. (Photo courtesy University of Illinois Plant Clinic)

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) -- The whistle has been blown and there's a time out in Illinois corn fields. A new bacterial leaf disease more common to Nebraska and other western corn states has been confirmed for the first time in Champaign County.

While it might be tempting to link the occurrence of bacterial stripe to payback for Saturday's last minute Illinois football win over the University of Nebraska, the University of Illinois Plant Clinic was waiting for official confirmation of the disease before the Huskers rolled into town.

Suzanne Bissonnette, University of Illinois Plant Diagnostic and IPM Coordinator, told DTN by email that she suspects the disease has been present in prior seasons. "It looks so much like other wilts that it has not [likely] been characterized correctly," she said.

Bacterial stripe foliar symptoms are similar to other endemic bacterial leaf pathogens of corn, such as Goss's Wilt and Stewart's Wilt. Lesions appear initially as lime-green to yellow diffused colorations running parallel with leaf veins. As the lesion matures, brown necrotic streaking is evident in the center of the lesion. Those brown discolorations can be two to five inches or more in length, according to the University of Illinois release.

Since this is a new disease to Illinois, there is little current or historical information available on how much it might have influenced yields this year. The Burkholderia andropogonis bacterium that causes the disease is widely dispersed and infects a large number of plants including Johnson grass, sorghum, rye and clover.

The Illinois news release cites the 1978 University of Nebraska findings of Vidaver and Carlson when the disease was observed in 1973-1975 in South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Michigan. The conclusions were the disease caused no economic yield penalty in those years. Bacterial strip has been linked to periods of wet humid weather.

This is the second new disease to be found Illinois this harvest season. Tar spot, a fungal disease that previously was only known to exist in the cool, humid and higher elevation areas of Latin America, was confirmed in Illinois and Indiana in late September.

Bissonnette recommended that corn growers watch for symptoms of these two new diseases in the coming season. Bacterial stripe will likely take laboratory testing to diagnose since it can be easily confused with other diseases.

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