Know the facts about Goss’s wilt

Any farmer perusing the Internet likely sees headlines about Goss’s wilt. What does it mean in Indiana?

Kiersten Wise, Extension plant pathologist at Purdue University, says farmers ought to know the factors that increase risk, but shouldn’t panic.

“There’s no reason to hit the panic button in Indiana,” she says. “The disease has been identified in Indiana and is most prevalent in several northwest counties. It’s more of an issue where popcorn is grown, because popcorn is very susceptible.”

While it grabbed headlines in Iowa and Illinois in 2011, Wise says weather will determine if it will be significant in Indiana in 2012. “The disease moves when storms, hail and wind damage crops,” she says.

Key Points

Goss’s wilt was identified in Indiana as early as 2008.

There’s no reason to panic about this disease, expert says.

Know the factors that increase risk and plan a scouting program.


Goss’s wilt is caused by a bacterium. Fungicide applications won’t help. The disease is most prevalent in corn after corn, and in tillage systems that leave residue on the surface.

Ryan McAllister, an Indiana Certified Crop Adviser and seed rep for Beck’s Hybrids, Parker City, notes it may be difficult to get information on hybrid differences. “The real challenge here is that we don’t know Goss’s wilt hybrid susceptibility for hybrids we use in Indiana,” he explains.

Wise notes, however, that although Indiana-specific data may not be available for all hybrids, dealers have a better idea of susceptibility based on performance in Western states. They may still be able to recommend less-susceptible hybrids.

Identify disease

Look for long, large, tan lesions in the centers or on leaf edges, notes Betsy Bower, CCA, agronomist for Ceres Solutions, Terre Haute. Margins may appear water-soaked and may appear shiny in direct sunlight.

You may see black flecks that don’t rub off. “When dry, Goss’s wilt is easily confused with drought stress or leaf scorch from chemical burn,” she notes.

Once the wilt phase begins, plants wilt and die early. Open stalks and look for brown or orange discoloration, Bower suggests.

Prevention includes picking hybrids thought to be less susceptible, plus switching to soybeans, tilling corn residue and controlling grassy weeds, Bower adds.

“Don’t panic, but you ought to be scouting, especially in northwest Indiana in high-risk fields,” Wise concludes.

Goss’s wilt at a glance


Cause: Bacteria, not susceptible to fungicides

Location: More prevalent in Western states, identified in Indiana in 2008 in northwestern counties

Very susceptible crops: Popcorn, seed corn, sweet corn

Conditions that favor it: Continuous corn, no-till or reduced tillage

Overwintering: Bacteria overwinters in residue

Hybrid susceptibility: Variable, not well-catalogued in Indiana

Scouting period: May to September, disease has two phases — leaf blight and systemic phase

Notable: Very high temperatures discourage Goss’s wilt

More information: See Purdue Corn & Soybean Field Guide


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Telltale signs: Look for leaf infections like this one.

This article published in the February, 2012 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2012.