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Long Smut of Sorghum

Fungus

Tolyposporium ehrenbergii


In a Nutshell

  • Creamy-brown, more or less cylindrical, and slightly curved "smut sori" scattered across the head.
  • The sori rupture to release a black mass of spores.
  • Bundle of 8-10 dark brown filaments is exposed.

Symptoms

This disease is normally restricted to a relatively a small proportion of the florets, transformed into "smut sori", which are scattered on a head. The sori are elongated, more or less cylindrical, elongated, slightly curved fungal structures. They have a relatively thick creamy-brown covering membrane. Each sorus splits at the apex to release a black mass of spores and spread the disease further. About 8-10 dark brown filaments are found within this structure, representing the rests of the plant floral tissues.

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Hosts

Trigger

The symptoms are caused by the fungus Tolyposporium ehrenbergii. Its spores often stick together to form balls, which allow them to survive in the soil for many years. These spore balls can also adhere to the sorghum seeds and serve as the primary source of infection. The symptoms appear during the booting stage of sorghum, when resting spores germinate within the floral tissues and produce more spores. Those get carried through wind currents to flag leaves on other plants and washed down into the boots to initiate infection of individual spikelets. Airborne spores may also settle and germinate in water droplets accumulated at the flag leaf sheath and infect the opening florets in the panicle later during the season.

Organic Control

Treatment of seeds with organic mercurial compounds is recommended to prevent disease outbreak.

Chemical Control

No chemical treatment seems to be available at the moment to treat this disease. Contact us in case you know of any.

Preventive Measures

  • Make sure to use only healthy seeds.
  • Several disease resistant or tolerant varieties are available, sow only these ones.
  • Diseased grains and plant material needs to be collected and destroyed immediately.
  • Apply a crop rotation of 2-3 years to ensure dieback of spore balls in the soil.
  • Sow early in the season to avoid exposure of young plants to airborne spores during T.
  • ehrenbergii germination period.

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