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Crazy Top | North American Farmer

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Crazy Top

About the Disease: Crazy Top is quite a common disease that is caused by Sclerophthora.

Symptoms: The symptoms of the disease are not the same at all stages of infection. At every phase of the infection, a specific symptom gets exhibited. There are many tillers for each plant. The top layer of the leaves will twist and turn. Since the rolling of leaves occur at the top region, this disease is called crazy top. Some of the leaves might be very narrow. Some leaves might be leathery. In the infected plants, some leaves can be too short and with chlorotic stripes.

The normal tassel cannot be seen in the infected plant. This will be replaced by the bushy and giant bundle of leaves. The bundle has many small leaves. In the case of infection, you will find that the plant produces no pollen. Ear formation will not occur. As a result of the absence of ear shoots, there will be many long ear shoots. The total growth of the plant can be either stunted or less than the normal height. Thus when you compare a normal plant with these infected varieties, you can find that they are completely different.

Pathogen Involved: The main pathogen is the Sclerophthora macrospore. You cannot find this in many parts of the world. But it is widely seen in United States of America. This particular pathogen infects other grass varieties apart from corn and wheat.

Time of Occurrence: Whenever the whole starts forming in every plant, it becomes more prone to fungal infections. Thus this part of the growth must be closely monitored. When the whorl gets filled with water, the infection can occur. This can happen, even when it gets filled with soil. Disease can commence when there is a phase transition from seedling to leaf formation.

Conditions Favoring Disease: The main condition that might favor the disease progression, is the flooding stage, where the leaves develop in the plant.

Disease Management: Since excessive water or soil within the whorl can lead to the disease, it is better to drain off the water as well as the soil from the whorl. Another recommendation will be to choose dry areas for planting. When the plants are planted in the wet areas, this might be a favorable condition for the disease. Low lying areas must also be completely avoided for cultivation of plants. The growth of grass weeds must also be controlled.