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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Crop Scientists Keeping An Eye On New Leaf Disease In Northern Illinois

Scott Schirmer / Illinois Department of Agriculture

Corn may be ubiquitous in DeKalb County, but it isn't immune to external threats.

A sample from a corn field recently tested positive for bacterial leaf streak. DeKalb is the first county in Illinois to have a USDA-verified case of the disease.

It’s similar to symptoms of gray leaf spots – which farmers come across frequently – except bacterial leaf streak cannot be treated with fungicides.

Dennis Bowman, with the University of Illinois Extension, says bacterial leaf streak could affect crop yield in Northern Illinois. 

"Those leaves are what’s putting the weight on the corn kernels," Bowman said. "And so anything that’s going to decrease the weight of the corn kernels is going to rapidly cut down on yield."

He says there currently isn't a way to prevent the disease, but urges farmers to be proactive in caring for their crops.

"We’re kind of at this point down to rotating the crops, " Bowman said. "So we switch from corn to soybeans or another crop the next year, and also pillage to get rid of residue that might be infected."

Bowman says the extension is conducting research to find more about leaf streak.