Crop experts are encouraging Nebraska farmers to scout their fields as the growing season continues, and want corn farmers to be aware of a disease that can make a big economic impact.
Agronomists and extension educators say they're getting more calls about two corn diseases - common rust and southern rust.
"This week with the forecasted warmer temperatures, we're probably going to see a higher incidence of southern rust starting to occur," says UNL Extension Agronomist Mark Hinze.
Both kinds of rust spores come to Nebraska from other states in the wind. Crop experts say when common rust is found on 10 percent of a leaf, it can mean up to a 15 percent yield loss in some parts of the country, and southern rust can do as much harm in a smaller area.
"When we lose our leaf surface area, then we lose the plant's ability to create sugars, and so the plant is going to provide sugars for that grain somewhere, and it if it can't get it from the leaf, it's going to cannibalize the stalk," says Hinze.
"That's why it's important to get out and monitor those fields, one of the big problems is if you have poor stalk quality, then you can't get it harvested, and that's a real concern in a lot of situations," says York County Extension Educator Gary Zoubek.
As of Monday, southern rust had been found in 20 Nebraska counties. But with many fields reaching maturity, agronomists say southern rust should be less of a worry.
Still they say treatment and yield loss means higher costs for farmers, which could lead to a bump in prices for consumers if the disease were to go unchecked.