False smut (Ustilaginoidea virens) and kernel smut (Neovossia horrida) are diseases of rice (Oryza sativa) that reduce both grain yield and quality. Susceptible rice cultivars are in widespread use on production acreage in the United States, and the effects from crop management practices on smut control are poorly understood. We studied the long-term effects of crop rotation, soil tillage, and fertility level on rice smut severity. The highest levels of false smut observed in this study were on cultivars grown in rotation with soybean, on traditionally tilled soils, with high fertilizer treatments. The highest levels of kernel smut were observed in a rice-soybean rotation with winter wheat grown between summer crops. These rotations are commonly used in rice-growing regions of the southern United States. Using combinations of crop rotation, soil tillage, and fertility rate, several alternative crop-management practices were identified that provided effective control of smuts in susceptible rice cultivars. The most effective method for controlling both false smut and kernel smut was in 3-year rotations of rice, soybean, and corn. Regardless of rotation order or tillage and fertility treatments within the rotations, rotating out of rice for 2 years was the most effective approach for smut control.
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