Assessment of Maize Ear Rot in Major Maize Growing Areas of Ashanti Region of Ghana

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Maize ear rots reduce grain yield quality with implication on food security and health. Information on the types and prevalence of maize ear rots in the major maize growing areas of Ashanti Region of Ghana is scanty. A surveywas, therefore, conducted during the major and minor maize growing seasons to determine the prevalence of maize ear rots and types of fungal pathogens associated in this region. The survey considered 39 and 20 communities in metropolis, municipals and districts during the major and minor seasons, respectively. A total of 44 farmers were interviewed during the survey. The field survey showed a 70% female dominance amongst respondents and a predominantly middle-age farming population. Majority (77%) of the farmers interviewed had only primary school education and about 43% had over two decades of experience with maize cultivation. Most of the farmers obtained their seeds from the Ghana Seed Company, and Obaatanpa appeared to be the variety of choice amongst farmers in the region. About 66% of the respondents alluded to planting their seeds in the month of April and majority (84%) of the farmers observed symptoms of maize ear rot at maturity of the crop. The survey also considered management practices used by farmers to combat maize ear rot. The results showed that majority (68%) of the farmers had no prior knowledge of any fungicides. Roundup, a weedicide, appeared to be the chemical of choice but none of the farmers interviewed used a fungicide. Sun drying of debris appeared to be the popular control method used in the region.The maize samples collected from the communities were taken to the laboratory and analyzed for ear rot pathogens. During the major season, a total of seven fungal pathogens were isolated. For this period, the prevalent fungal pathogen of maize ear rot was Aspergillus flavus, followed by Colletotrichum sp. and the least being Curvulariasp. For the minor season, a total of five fungal pathogens were isolated. During this period, the prevalent fungal pathogen of maize ear rot wasColletotrichumsp., followed by A. flavus and the least being Penicillium sp. The types of maize ear rot identified wereAspergillus flavus,Colletotrichum sp., Trichoderma sp., Fusarium sp., Aspergillus niger, Penicillium sp. and Curvulariasp.Results from the field survey showed that majority of the farmers did not perceive the occurrence and impact of maize ear rots.
A thesis submitted to the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the Degree of Master of Science in Crop Protection (Plant Pathology)