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Subject: Two Florida counties report cases of sorghum ergot
Date posted: November 15, 2001
Source: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Samples of Sorghum bicolor from Manatee and Alachua counties have been found to have sorghum ergot disease, caused by the fungi Claviceps africana. In 1995, C. africana was discovered in Brazil, its first appearance outside Asia and Africa. It is now known to occur throughout eastern South America, Mexico and Australia. In 1997, C. africana spread to the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and dispersed to Kansas and Nebraska, as well as some southeastern states such as Georgia and Mississippi. For its development, sorghum ergot favors high temperatures (66-70 degrees F) and high relative humidities. The disease lowers grain/seed yield and quality, makes threshing difficult, reduces germination and seedling emergence, and predisposes seedlings to other diseases. Clothing, footwear, and farm implements are all possible vectors for the pathogen; at the local level, wind may disperse the fungus.

For more information see http://www.apsnet.org/online/feature/ergot/top.html.