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New Corn Disease Found In Indiana, But Purdue Expert Says It Could Be Worse

U.S. Department of Agriculture

A new corn disease has been discovered in Indiana, and it’s the first confirmed case in the country.

The disease called "tar spot" is more commonly found in Mexico and Central America, but its presence in the Hoosier state should not cause any immediate problems.

Kiersten Wise, Purdue Extension Specialist for Field Crop Diseases, says a fungus causes the disease and it discolors crops in ways other pests do.

“Tar spot symptoms will have kind of a yellow or brown lesion, and then in the center of that lesion, or independent of the lesion, sometimes we’ll see these black, raised structures,” Wise says. “This disease does resemble one of our other common diseases, which is rust.”

Wise says that researchers are trying to figure out where it came from and what its impact could be for the next growing season, if there will be any at all. She says that the disease tends to thrive in cool, humid weather, which there was plenty of this year, with record rainfall around the state.

Wise says the disease has been associated with two forms of fungi. She says Indiana is fortunate to have avoided the more destructive of the two.

“To date, we’ve only confirmed one of the fungi that can be associated with this disease. And, in the countries where this disease is more common, this particular fungus is not known to have much of an economic impact,” Wise says.

Officials are asking farmers to report any instance of the disease if they see it.

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