Corn anthracnose (Colletotrichum graminicola) is an important disease of field corn (Zea mays). Two phases, leaf blight and stalk rot, can reduce yield through either premature leaf senescence or reduced grain harvest due to stalk lodging. Corn residue is an important source of primary inoculum and is increased through cultural practices such as no-tillage and continuous corn cropping, which are common practices in Wisconsin. Field studies conducted at the Arlington Agricultural Research Station (ARS) and the West Madison ARS showed that the incidence and severity of anthracnose leaf blight were higher in continuous-corn crop rotations than in soybean–corn rotations (91% higher incidence, 24 to 78% higher severity). Anthracnose stalk rot was marginally affected by tillage in 2008 (P = 0.09), with higher incidence in chisel-plowed treatments. There was a positive association between spring residue cover and anthracnose leaf blight but no association was found between residue and stalk rot. No association was found between anthracnose leaf blight and stalk rot. There was a negative association between anthracnose leaf blight and yield but not between anthracnose stalk rot and yield. Managing residue levels through crop rotation would help to reduce anthracnose leaf blight but further work is needed to elucidate factors that lead to stalk lodging prior to harvest.
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