Harvest Sunrise 2016

Harvest Sunrise 2016

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Smut on a Family Blog

I know this is a family blog, but I've got to talk smut. What is the world coming to, when a farm wife from Central Kansas is putting smut out there on the internet?

Believe me, I'd rather not. But before you call the Morality Police, I'd better 'fess up. Yes, smut can mean "obscene or lascivious talk, writing, or pictures."

And these photos are obscene all right. But they fit a different definition:  a fungal disease of grains in which parts of the ear changes to black powder.
It kind of looks like aliens invaded a few of the corn ears.
I emailed my brother, who is a lot more experienced with corn than we are. He sent me a 22-page PDF from researchers at the University of Illinois and St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, called "Common smut of corn." There's nothing common about words like "ascomycetes, basidiomycetes and oomycetees." Thankfully, he also sent me a 4-page Reader's Digest version, "Common Smut and Head Smut in Corn" from AgAnytime.
What is boils down to is this: Yes, we have some smut in our corn fields. Common smut in corn is caused by the fungus Ustilago maydis. They are greenish white or silvery white in appearance as they develop. As they mature, the fungal tissues begin to turn black with the development of teliospores. Head smut is caused by the fungus Spahacelotheca reiliana.

And if these researchers find it hard to distinguish one from the other, I will just say I'd rather we didn't have it. Nobody needs smut in their life. I'd rather I didn't have to talk smut on a family blog. But if one of my goals is to chronicle our farm life, I need to be real. And that means talking about smut.
Thankfully, it doesn't all look like that. We also have normal looking ears developing.
We got from 0.10" to 0.20" of rain a week ago. We could have used more on the corn and less on the hay that Randy put down. The corn has not flourished with temperatures above 100 degrees every day this week.

But such is life on a Kansas farm.

2 comments:

  1. Your title cracked me up:):). Glad to see the corn ours around here is just starting to grow now. Hug B.

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    1. I figured everyone could use a smile. :-) I know I always can.

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