Written By: Emily Cabrera, IPM Communications Coordinator
Expert/Source: Bob Kemerait

Southern corn rust is caused by the fungus Puccinia polysora

As weather in south Georgia turns hot and humid – with rain in the forecast – the spread of fungal diseases in corn, peanut and soybean is advancing quickly. 

University of Georgia Extension Plant Pathology Specialist, Bob Kemerait, is urging county Extension agents to take action and talk to growers in their counties if they have any of these at-risk row crops.

“One of my favorite lines from any movie is ‘What we have here is a failure to communicate’ from Cool Hand Luke,” amused Kemerait. “We are at a critical point this season when effective communication from Extension is absolutely essential, and from my vantage point, beginning this week through late July is the most critical time period for growers to take action.”

Much of the corn, peanut, and soybean crops in south Georgia are currently in growth stages that are particularly vulnerable to diseases. The warm, humid weather provides textbook conditions for the development and spread of fungal diseases. Conditions that are perfect to cause delayed fungicide applications as well, explained Kemerait. Southern corn rust, Asian soybean rust and peanut leaf spot are active, as is white mold.

“Growers need to hear from you in SW and SE districts that now is the time to carry the battle, often with appropriate fungicides, to the enemy. It is time to be aggressive in disease control; not timid or hesitant.  Choose fungicides for efficacy and that offer at least some curative activity, if possible” urged Kemerait.

Kemerait said growers in the NW and NE districts likely have time, but need to carefully watch how diseases develop throughout south Georgia and be sure to scout their fields regularly to catch problems early.

“The iron is hot, please help me spread the word” Kemerait asked.