This study aimed to find an efficient method of inoculation of Stenocarpella maydis to produce white ear rot (WER) and estimate pathogen damage on maize grain yield components. Measured components were ear mass, grain mass per ear, and thousand grain weight. The experiments were performed in Ponta Grossa, PR, Brazil in a randomized block design with treatments arranged in a split plot with three replications. Three hybrids were studied. For each, five methods of inoculation in the ear at the soft dough stage were compared to un-inoculated controls. The ears were inoculated with 1 mL of the spore suspension (104 conidia/ml). Evaluations of the disease index (%), severity (%) and lesion area were performed in three (1st experiment) and four periods (2nd experiment), and the area under the disease progression curve was calculated for each of these periods. The area under the disease progression curve was calculated for each period. Inoculation at the center of the ear resulted in the best growth and development of the pathogen in both experiments. Inoculation at the base and center of the ears resulted in greater reductions in yield components, with degrees of damage varying from 27.8 to 43.1%. The inoculation of S. maydis in the center of the ear can be considered an appropriate method for resistance screening to WER in maize breeding programs.
Key words: White ear rot, disease progress curve, severity, yield components.
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