Grain Sorghum Head Fungi

Tom Allen, Extension Plant Pathologist
By Tom Allen, Extension Plant Pathologist August 27, 2011 16:50

Grain Sorghum Head Fungi

Damaged grain sorghum panicles can allow many different fungi to enter and infect the developing grain or simply allow the fungus a place to reproduce if a kernel has been removed from the panicle itself.  A similar situation can occur when corn ears are damaged.  Over the past few weeks I’ve received calls regarding grain sorghum panicles with moldy grain.  However, most of the panicles were damaged by bird feeding and the mold is a secondary issue.  The damaged portion of the panicle had single kernels removed and the location was infected/inhabited by a fungus.  Environmental conditions have not been conducive for much of this year for primary infection of plants by foliar fungi.  But, with the cooler temperatures and increased rainfall in some parts of the state it is possible for some additional fungal growth on panicles.  Ideally this is not an issue to be concerned about and is one that management with a fungicide would not produce an economic response. 

Damaged kernels can create a home for secondary fungal infection. Note the green sporulation present throughout this milo panicle.

In some cases a white fungus will be visible on the panicles in the field but is more notably present in the morning when free moisture in the form of dew is present.  However, as in the attached photo most of the fungi produce green, grey, or black sporulation where the developing grain was removed from the panicle or where a kernel was injured by a bird, insect, or other force.

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Tom Allen, Extension Plant Pathologist
By Tom Allen, Extension Plant Pathologist August 27, 2011 16:50
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