A corn disease that is new to the heartland is infecting Kansas crops and may be contributing to this year's decline in yield.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed the presence of bacterial leaf streak in a swath of land from Pratt County to Edwards County in late August, according to The Hutchinson News.
Justin Gatz, a Preston-area farmer and crop consultant, said the disease is probably a factor in this year's lower yield, but weather also had an impact.
"It might be one of those deals we see it this year and we won't see it again — just because of the weather conditions we had this year," said Gatz, who added that because the disease is bacterial, fungicide won't work to kill it.
Edwards County farmer David Wood said other crops are doing well, but his corn yield potential has fallen by 40 to 60 bushels an acre compared with last year.
The federal department began a survey of cornfields across the region after the disease was discovered in samples submitted to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2014, Kansas State University said in a statement. The disease is thought to have occurred on corn in South Africa, but it has been more widely associated with gumming disease of sugarcane, according to the statement. It is unknown how it entered the U.S.
The disease has been found in about a dozen states, including Nebraska, Colorado and Oklahoma.