Seedling Disease of Corn Caused by Pythium Increases With Proximity of Rye
Yield loss of corn following a winter rye cover crop (CC) has been associated with increases in seedling disease caused by Pythium spp. We hypothesized that physical separation between the CC and corn could reduce the risk of seedling disease, and benefit corn growth and development. In a growth chamber experiment, corn seedlings were planted at 0 cm and 8 to 10 cm from terminated winter rye plants. Root rot severity was assessed at crop development stage V2, and quantitative PCR was used to estimate the abundance of Pythium clade B and clade F members present in corn roots. Radicle and seminal root rot severity was numerically greater when seedlings were planted 0 cm from terminated rye plants compared with seedlings planted 8 to 10 cm away. Moreover, a greater abundance of Pythium clade B was detected in corn grown within the terminated winter rye compared with corn planted further away (P = 0.0003). No effect of distance between corn and winter rye was detected for Pythium clade F. These data contribute to our understanding of the effect of a winter rye cover crop on corn and will inform field trial management practices for farmers to reduce occasional yield loss of corn following a winter rye cover crop.