Item Details

Title: Incidence and Severity of Maize Ear Rots and Factors Responsible for Their Occurrence in Uganda

Date Published: 2007
Author/s: G. Bigirwa, A.N. Kaaya, G. Sseruwu, E. Adipala and S. Okanya
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Journal Publisher: Journal of Applied Sciences


Eleven major maize growing districts of Uganda were surveyed for three consecutive seasons between 2002 and 2003 to establish maize ear rot incidence and severity. Sternocarpella maydis and Fusarium species particularly F. graminearum and F. verticillioides were the identified maize ear rot causing fungi. Incidence of S. maydis ranged from 2.5 to 32.5% while that of Fusarium sp. was in the range of 1.9 and 15.3%. In districts of higher altitude (above 1,800 m above sea level) F. graminearum dominated in all seasons while in districts with an altitude between 900 and 1,500 m above sea level, S. maydis was the major cause of ear rots. This observation was attributed to differences in temperature, altitude and rainfall. There was a strong positive correlation (p = 0.001) between incidence and severity for S. maydis and a weak one for Fusarium sp. because the latter would rarely infect the entire cob unlike the former. All farmers expressed concern about the quality of maize due to ear rots and sort out infected grain after harvest. However, varied uses of infected grain were noted. For example, in Kapchorwa district 82% of the respondents indicated that the infected grain is used for making local brew because the moulds give it a good taste and aroma, while in Kamuli and Masaka districts, 36% use it as animal feed ingredient. This indicates that people and animals could be ingesting mycotoxins unknowingly thus the need for sensitization programmes.