Stewarts' Wilt Killing Corn Seedlings

May 12, 2000
Across the state, several of you are dealing with a disease situation on the corn crop that we don't see very often (unless we have high numbers of flea beetles feeding on the seedlings), a bacterial disease called Stewarts' wilt. Field corn, unlike sweet corn, does not often succumb to this disease but can be vulnerable in the seedling stage when a lot of flea beetles, which transmit the bacteria, are present and are feeding heavily on the tissue. Seedlings will not recover from what is called a "systemic" infection of the bacteria. Symptoms in this case will be withered or fired-looking leaves, and if you split open the seedling you will see brown, mushy tissue where the growing point should be.


Stewarts' wilt on seedling.

Robert Bellm, crops educator at the Edwardsville Extension Center, and Matt Montgomery of the Sangamon/Menard Extension Unit both report fields with significant Stewarts' seedling wilt. For a discussion of Stewarts' wilt, see Loretta Ortiz-Ribbing's article on the subject in issue no. 3 (April 14) of this year's Bulletin.--Suzanne Bissonnette

Author: Suzanne Bissonnette