Premature death of plants. The crown and inner stalk show significant deterioration identified by a shredded appearance in the lower internodes. Numerous small, black bodies (sclerotia) are scattered throughout the lower stalk, giving the inner stalk a black, dusty appearance. The disease is favored by extended periods of hot, droughty weather during grain fill with soil temperatures exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Disease will be most severe in areas of the field where moisture is limiting, such as sandy areas, terrace tops, or compacted areas. Choose hybrids with good staygreen and stalk-strength characteristics. Some hybrids may have levels of greater natural resistance. Reduce plant populations, weed pressure and use irrigation to avoid moisture stress. Avoid continuous cropping.
Taken from Crop Production Handbook, KSU Extension