Corn disease causes concern for Kansas farmers

Finney County corn field

STAFFORD COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – There’s new concern about a disease impacting corn crops across the Midwest.

It’s called “bacterial leaf streak.”

Even though the corn harvest around Kansas is coming to an end, farmers are worried how next year’s crop will be affected.

“This is a disease that basically attacks leaf surfaces and makes it more different for photosynthesis to take place for the plant to grow using sunshine and oxygen,” said KSN Ag Analyst John Jenkinson.

The United States Department of Agriculture has confirmed the disease in nine states, including Kansas.

A central Kansas farmer said his corn was affected around Spring.

“They sent it into K-State and it finally came back that we had the bacterial leaf streak,” said John Dewerff.

Dewerff found out there’s not much known about the disease and how it could impact the crop, if it hits early in the growing season, which ultimately results in yield loss.

“Everybody’s thinking were going to have some because it damages the leaves and the leaves are what put the corn on the ear,” added Dewerff.

Jenkinson told KSN’s Amanda Aguilar that this disease has the potential to make a significant impact on the industry.

“If it is found to be a devastating disease it would affect everything from the grocery story all the way to the fuel pump..to the plastics that are used in many many different applications today,” he said.

Scientists still are unclear how the disease is spread, but Jenkinson said it is believed to be seed transmitted.

There’s still a lot of research to be done on bacterial leaf streak, but Dewerff said it’s never too early to start monitoring for it, and to be aware that it has hit, here, in Kansas.

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