Understanding Disease Resistance in Silage Corn

Understanding Disease Resistance in Silage Corn

When it comes to cultivating silage corn, one of the primary concerns every grower grapples with is disease. Various pathogens can wreak havoc on a silage corn crop, leading to diminished yields, poor forage quality, and potentially significant economic losses. Given the gravity of this threat, understanding disease resistance becomes an important part of choosing the best silage corn seed for your season.

1. Common Diseases Affecting Silage Corn:

  • Northern Leaf Blight (NLB): Recognizable by its long elliptical gray-green lesions on leaves, NLB can significantly reduce yield if not managed.

  • Gray Leaf Spot (GLS): Manifesting as small brown spots that expand into long rectangles, GLS can lead to significant defoliation and yield loss.

  • Rust: This disease, identifiable by the rusty pustules on leaf surfaces, can hamper photosynthesis and reduce plant vigor.

  • Anthracnose Leaf Blight: With symptoms including water-soaked spots that turn necrotic, this disease can lead to stalk rot if it progresses.

  • Goss’s Wilt: Caused by bacteria, the symptoms include leaf blighting and water-soaked streaks on leaves, leading to reduced grain fill.

2. Why Disease Resistance Matters:

Diseases not only result in reduced yields but also impact the overall quality of the silage. Infected plants may have compromised nutritional content, affecting the health and productivity of livestock consuming the silage.

3. Selecting Disease-Resistant Varieties:

Selecting disease-resistant corn hybrids offers several advantages:

  • Reduced Need for Pesticides: Resistant hybrids diminish the need for chemical interventions, leading to cost savings and environmental benefits.

  • Higher Yields: By preventing significant disease outbreaks, resistant varieties ensure that the crop realizes its full yield potential.

  • Better Quality Forage: A healthy crop ensures high-quality forage, which translates to better livestock health and productivity.

  • Economic Stability: With disease-resistant varieties, farmers can expect consistent yields year over year, ensuring stable income and reduced economic vulnerability.

4. Breeding and Genetic Advances:

Modern corn breeding techniques have made significant strides in enhancing disease resistance. By identifying genes that confer resistance to specific pathogens, breeders can develop hybrids that stand strong against prevalent diseases in a given region.

5. The Balancing Act:

While disease resistance is crucial, it's one of the many traits farmers consider when selecting a hybrid. It's essential to strike a balance, ensuring the chosen variety also meets other criteria, such as yield potential, maturity rating, and digestibility.


In the face of the ever-present threat of disease, understanding and prioritizing disease resistance in silage corn is a wise move for every farmer. By choosing resistant hybrids and complementing them with sound agronomic practices, one can ensure bountiful and healthy harvests year after year.