Kernel Smut Of Rice Crops: How To Treat Rice Kernel Smut

Kernel Smut Of Rice Crops: How To Treat Rice Kernel Smut

By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden

Whether growing a field of rice crops or just a few rice plants in the garden, you may at some point come across some kernel smut of rice. What is this and how can you alleviate the problem? Read on to learn more.

What is Rice Kernel Smut?

Perhaps, you’re asking what is rice kernel smut? The short answer is it’s a fungus carried by Chlamydospores that may linger and overwinter, waiting for spring rains to move it to a new home. That new home often includes panicles of long-grain rice growing in the field where the fungus exists.

Chlamydospores are the cause of rice with kernel smut. These settle into rice kernels as they reach maturity. Long grain rice varieties are most often bothered with kernel smut of rice during rainy and high humid growing seasons. Areas where rice is fed with nitrogen fertilizer experience the problem more readily.

Not all long-grain kernels on every panicle are infected. Completely smutted kernels are not common, but are possible. When totally smutted kernels are harvested, you may notice a black cloud containing the spores. Infested lots of grain have a dull, grayish cast.

While this appears to be a common issue with rice crops, it is considered a minor disease of the crop. It is called serious, however, when Tilletia barclayana (Neovossia horrida) infects rice panicles, replacing grains with the black smut spores.

How to Treat Rice Kernel Smut

Preventing rice kernel smut may include planting short or medium grain rice in areas prone to fungus development and avoiding the use of nitrogen fertilizer to increase crop yield. Treating infections is difficult, as the fungus is only visible following panicle maturity.

Learning how to treat rice kernel smut is not as effective as prevention. Practice good sanitation, plant disease resistant (certified) seed, and limit nitrogen fertilizer to control a present fungus.

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