A common question the past few weeks has been whether I had seen any ear molds. After the debacle in wheat this past summer and the wet foggy mornings in September, the common assumption was ear mold levels in corn would be high. I have been seeing some low level infection like the picture below for several weeks, but it had remained spotty and not high enough to raise alarm. However, gibberella ear rot is very unpredictable.
Three weeks ago this is what it typically looked like. The black tip is a symptom of giberella ear mold development. When you break the cob open it looks you see a rotten core which is a clear illustration of why it is called gibberella ear mold.
I was interested to hear the OMAF summary of their gibberella ear mold survey in corn this past week. The synopsis was ear mold levels are very low, with the exception of a couple of hybrids. I know enough about ear mold to never make too many assumptions and looking around the last few days has made me increasingly nervous. I am seeing more of this white cotton like symptom which most producers identify with ear mold.
Another thing I know about ear mold is that visual assessments can be misleading. The presence or absence of visual mold has little bearing on actual toxin accumulation. Mold will continue to grow and produce toxins until corn moisture drops well below 25%. With grain moistures in the 30% range there is still time for toxins to accumulate.
I would agree that most fields do not have a mold issue, but corn growers need to pay attention if they see ear molds developing. Moldy corn will always yield less because mold feeds on the starches in the kernel reducing test weights and dry matter..
If you are a livestock producer, harvest and dry the crop as quickly as possible. If you have the flexibility, keep your cleanest fields for feed and sell the rest on the cash market. Blending grain is a tactic that can reduce problems because it is the toxin amount in the finished ration that determines livestock performance.
Going forward Pioneer continues to screen genetics for gibberella mold tolerance. P9754 has been advanced due to outstanding tolerance to ear mold infection.
Clean grain right to the tip. Priceless.
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