Fusarium and gibberella stalk rot

Fusarium moniliforme syn. Fusarium verticillioides (Teleomorph: Gibberella fujikuroi)
Gibberella zeae (Anamorph: Fusarium graminearum)

Nature of damage

  • Gibberella and Fusarium stalk rots can cause extensive crop damage by premature plant death, interference with translocation of water and nutrients during grain filling, and crop lodging.


  • Symptoms produced by these pathogens resemble those caused by Stenocarpella or Cephalosporium, and cannot be differentiated until spore-producing structures are observed.
  • Wilted plants remain standing when dry.
  • Small, dark-brown lesions develop in the lowest internodes.
  • When infected stalks are split, the phloem appears dark brown, and there is a general conspicuous browning of tissues.
  • In the final stages of infection, pith is shredded and surrounding tissues become discolored.

Factors favoring development

  • Fusarium moniliforme is most common in dry, warm areas. It is particularly severe if it begins just before tasseling.
  • Gibberella zeae is prevalent in cool regions.
  • Increased crop density and nitrogen fertilization rates favor disease severity.
  • Crops under stress (e.g. due to foliar diseases) are more prone to stalk rots - stalks are already weakened as stalk sugars are diverted for grain filling.

Geographic distribution

  • Maize growing regions worldwide.