Aspergillus Ear Rot


Ear rots show up as moldy growth on ears and kernels. Aspergillus ear rot can be identified as a greenish-yellow mold on and between kernels.

The more common ear rots occurring in Kentucky include: Stenocarpella (Diplodia) ear rot, Aspergillus ear rot, and Fusarium ear rot.


The causal agent for Aspergillus ear rot is the fungus, Aspergillus flavus. This fungus produces aflatoxins, potent mycotoxins which are regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A laboratory test of the harvested corn is recommended where Aspergillus ear rot is suspected.

Drought and high temperature during grain fill favor this ear rot. Also, kernel injury from insects, birds, and other factors can enhance the risk from this disease.

IPM Techniques

  • Observe for ear rot from dough stage through harvest.
  • Choose hybrids in which ears are well- covered by husks, and which mature with ears pointing downward.
  • Clean bins before storage.
  • Dispose of waste corn around bins before storage.
  • Harvest at about 25% moisture and dry to 15% moisture within 24-48 hours for shelled corn to minimize kernel damage and field losses.

References and Additional Information

  • IPM-2 Kentucky IPM Manual for Corn
  • PPA-10a Kentucky Plant Disease Management Guide for Corn and Sorghum by P. Vincelli and D.E. Hershman, Extension Plant Pathologists

Compendium of Corn Diseases. M.C. Shurtleff. The Amer. Phytopathol. Soc. 1980

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