Corn Smut – Black Kernels

Q: Every year we grow yellow sweet corn. Recently we discovered two deformed ears with some kind of fungus or growth that is white and black. It was very “yucky” looking!

A: You say “yucky” but others say “yummy”! Your corn has a disease called “corn smut”. Gardeners and farmers hate it. Mexicans, though, consider the swollen corn kernels a delicacy, suitable for soup and for scrambling with eggs. South of the border, you can even find cans of “Huitlacoche” on grocery shelves.

The dusty black spores give this corn disease its name. It overwinters on corn debris so the best way to control it is to remove all corn stalks after harvest. Some corn varieties are resistant to the disease but few packets of corn seed list this particular trait.

I have noted below an Internet site you can visit for more information. I do not recommend, however, that you type the words ^corn smut^ into your favorite search engine. I did so unwittingly and what I saw on my computer screen was enough to curl my eyebrow hair!

Corn Smut

corn smut 1

corn smut 2