The maize lethal nucresis (MLN) which attacks mainly parts of eastern Uganda.
- Rot on the leaves, usually starting from the base of the young leaves in the whorl (funnel) and extending upwards toward the leaf tips.
- Mild to severe leaf mottling.
- Premature aging of the plants.
- Necrosis of leaf margins that progress to the mid-rib, resulting in drying up of the whole leaf.
- Necrosis of young leaves in the whorl before expansion, leading to a ‘dead heart’ symptom and death of the plant. Even though maize is reported to be the primary host of the MLN disease, a wide range of plants in the grass family (73 species) could be possibly affected by this disease.
Cause of the disease
The disease is caused by co-infection with two viruses, the sugarcane mosaic virus (group potyviridae) and maize chlorotic mottle virus (MCMV) (group tombusviridae). The MCMV is a new virus that had not previously been reported in Kenya.
Transmission of MCMV
The disease is reported to be spread by maize (corn) thrips, maize (corn) rootworms and leaf beetles.
- Practise crop rotation for at least two seasons, with alternative non-cereal crops such as Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava, beans, bulb onions, spring onions, vegetables and garlic.
- Farmers should plant certified seed only and not recycle own seed.
- Diversification of farm enterprises by planting different crops each season.
- Remove infected foliar material from the field to reduce pathogen and vector population. This material can be fed to livestock.
- Grain and cobs that are rotten should not be fed to humans or animals. These are to be destroyed by burning.
- Use manure, basal, top dressing fertilisers to boost plant vigour.
- Plant maize at the onset of the main rainy season and not during the short rainy season so as to create a break in maize planting seasons. This will reduce the population of vectors.
- Use good field sanitation methods, including weed control measures to eliminate alternate hosts for potential vectors.