Sandblasting Injury in Corn (& Cereals)

In Manitoba, it is not uncommon to see extremely windy conditions early in the season.  Strong winds may result in sandblasting injury in young and emerging corn crop, as well as other crops such as cereals.  Sandblasting injury is caused by winds impacting soil particles against the plant leaves.  Light, sandy soil areas are the most common areas of sandblasting in a field.

Symptoms include:

  • Small abrasions on leaves caused by blowing sand, which are often copper-tone in color
  • Shredding of leaf tissue, making them prone to desiccation
  • Plants may be cut off at the soil surface in severe cases.

In corn, the growing point remains below ground until approximately the V5 leaf stage, so if only leaves are affected the plant should recover without substantial yield loss.  In cereal crops, the same principle applies. Favorable weather including warm temperatures and rainfall will promote development of new leaf growth.  However, if the growing point in either crop type has been impacted, reduced stands will likely result.  So the key is to keep scouting for the next few weeks to assess the full impact.

Goss’s Wilt in Corn
In corn, another point to keep in mind is plants that are damaged by hail, wind, or sand-blasting are susceptible to Goss’s Wilt infection as the bacteria can infect corn throughout the growing season and can enter through the wounds caused by sand-blasting.

As you are scouting for Goss’s Wilt throughout the season, focus your attention on fields that are:

  • planted to a Goss’s susceptible hybrid,
  • have a history of Goss’s Wilt,
  • have surface corn residue, and
  • may have been injured by severe weather.

Initial symptoms of Goss’s Wilt include water-soaked lesions on the leaves later accompanied by “freckling”. Bacterial ooze may also occur on the lesion, giving it a wet or greasy appearance. When the ooze dries, it leaves a shiny residue on the surface of the lesion.  More information and photos can be found at Goss’s Wilt Distribution in Manitoba.

Last Revised May 2017