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Southern Rust of Corn
June 2011

By Dr. Snook Pataky
Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology
University of Illinois

Part 1: Differentiating Common Rust
and Southern Rust of Corn

Watch Presentation (9 min 19 sec)

for PC and Android | for Apple devices


Part 2: Southern Rust of Corn
Watch Presentation (14 min 34 sec)

for PC and Android | for Apple devices



Summary: Two rust diseases occur on corn grown in North America: common rust, caused by Puccinia sorghi, and southern rust, caused by Puccinia polysora. In some cases, both rusts can occur simultaneously or in the same geographic region. Because symptoms of the two diseases are similar, correct diagnosis can be difficult especially for an inexperienced observer. This first presentation describes methods to differentiate common and southern rust in the field and in the lab.

The second presentation focuses on southern rust. As the name implies, southern rust is found most frequently in the southern U.S., where weather conditions are more similar to tropical environments that favor its development. Although not usually widespread throughout the majority of the North American Corn Belt, P. polysora can be a very aggressive pathogen which results in rapid disease development. Following periods of particularly warm, humid weather, outbreaks of southern rust have occurred in recent summers in Nebraska, Illinois and Wisconsin; and a new race of P. polysora was discovered in 2008 in Georgia. This presentation describes the basic life cycle of Puccinia polysora and the epidemiology of southern rust. Factors that cause the disease to become problematic and effective methods of control also are discussed.

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