Weather Factors Associated with Development of Sorghum Ergot in the Texas Panhandle. Academic Article uri icon


  • Since its first introduction in 1997, sorghum ergot, caused by Claviceps africana, has been observed yearly in the Texas Panhandle, where it has caused occasional epidemics in hybrid-seed production fields. To determine the effect of weather factors on ergot severity, inoculation experiments were conducted in 2003 and 2004 using sequentially planted sorghum plants. Sorghum flowers were inoculated with three inoculum concentrations (1 104, 1 105, or 1 106 spores/ml) prepared from infected sorghum panicles producing fresh honeydew. Each year, inoculations were conducted several times during sorghum flowering periods so that time of inoculations would coincide with different weather conditions. Weather variables (temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, precipitation, and radiation) were collected using an onsite weather station. Infected and uninfected florets were counted 8 to 13 days after inoculation, and the percentage of infected florets per sorghum panicle (severity) was determined. In both years, temperature and relative humidity were the predominant factors responsible for variations in sorghum ergot severity with all inoculum densities. Relationship between ergot severity and each of the two variables depended on inoculum density. Measurable infection occurred at a maximum temperature of 34C with 1 106 spores/ml, while there was little or no infection at 30C with 1 104 spore/ml. Cumulative departures from minimum relative humidity and maximum temperature infection thresholds 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, and 72 h after inoculation were calculated and regressed against ergot severity for each inoculum level. Cumulative departures of hourly temperature and relative humidity from maximum temperature and minimum relative humidity infection thresholds 18 and 24 h after inoculation were best related to sorghum ergot severity (R 2 = 89 and 91; P < 0001, respectively). Models based on these two time-durations then were used in predicting a regional site-specific ergot severity potential using radar-estimated rainfall.

published proceedings

  • Plant Dis

author list (cited authors)

  • Workneh, F., & Rush, C. M.

citation count

  • 11

complete list of authors

  • Workneh, F||Rush, CM

publication date

  • June 2006