Welcome moisture could lead to unwelcome guest in corn fields

Corn farmers who welcomed recent rain might discover an unwelcome guest.

Kim Tutor with BASF says the moisture creates an environment for tar spot to thrive.

“We have the host, corn. We’ve got the pathogen, so it’s overwintering in any of that corn residue that hasn’t full decomposed. And really the third factor that’s going to trigger whether or not that disease is present is really the environmental conditions.”

She says six Iowa counties have confirmed the presence of tar spot and reports of the disease are coming in from Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska as well.

“Certain areas got pockets of rain this past weekend, and that was just enough moisture and now that disease is starting to present itself.”

Tutor says unlike other corn diseases, tar spot has possibly the longest latent period, meaning it could be infecting the plant for up to three weeks before it’s detectable. 

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