My pictures show two of the lovely specimens. We planted a good sized patch of sweet corn this year in a new area that we never planted in before. It was an heirloom variety and we were eager for the harvest. The high heat at the wrong time of year caused pollination to be limited. But we have quite a few ears of this delicacy also known as corn smut, a fungus. Something that actually is eaten by some in soups and quesadillas.
So, we are throwing the smut into the burn pile. We won't plant corn there ever again, but can other crops be planted there without any ill effects?
Thanks for any and all help and sorry if the photos were disgusting. When I was searching about this online, I ran into images of canned huitlacoche. yuck.
Corn is about the only standard vegetable that smut (Ustilago maydis) infects. It is surprising that it show up in a newly used field. Normally it becomes a problem, when corn has been grown in the same area for several years. Sweet corn is much more susceptible, especially whites. Most field corn hybrids have resistance. There are multiple smuts that attack small grains, wheat oats, rye, barley etc but these are different organisms.
Thank you so much for the info, Farmerdill. This was a white sweet corn. We moved here in the fall of 2007 and the previous owner had no garden that we could tell. Is it possible if corn was planted in that spot however many years ago that it could effect corn this late?
Gymgirl... too funny. I had to tell you when I first saw this I was speechless. With all the hybrids and other stuff out there, I has first thought some weird cross pollination occurred, since our neighbor has his field corn across the road from us.
So... I am guessing this means we probably should no longer try growing organic-heirloom sweet corn. Next year, south and west of us will be planted with field corn and the year after, our neighbor's field across the road again... :( I'll have to start asking around the local sweet corn growers about who strives to use organic methods and buy from them in future years. I was hoping to freeze some this year along with all the fresh we all have been eagerly waiting for.
Try a yellow like Golden Bantam, it is not that old and it is susceptible as is all sweet corn but maybe not as much so as the pre 1900 whites. The fungi is also weather dependent to a degree, dry weather to stress the plant followed by a wet spell when tasseling is ideal for its development. The spores enter the plant through
wounds usually bug bites.
Yeah, that is an extreme fungus, chuckl, used to see it like a naked frog had climbed up into an ear under the silks to scare me when I shocked em. Why I burn all corn plant growth in the area still, chuckl. So sorry for your loss!