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loki

Huitlacoche cultivation - Spore preservation to next season?

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I found Huitlacoche (corn smut = Ustilago maydis) in my corn patch. I'd like to preserve some spores for next season. Any suggestions or experience with this? Or where to find info on how to do that if you don't personally know?

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To the best of my knowledge this stuff is considered highly contagious by farmers, so perhaps it is easy to spread from spores?

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All fungi spread by spores (well perhaps there are some that spread vegetatively/asexually too). I collected some fruiting bodies (corn smut is a gall that looks like a mushroom - sort of), that are breaking open with lots of black spores. I just want to know how to preserve them... There is very little info on this that I can find about this. It is mentioned that they overwinter in the soil.

It is a 'pathogen' to corn farmers, though not because it takes over and kills all the corn - or lowers productivity much, rather, it makes it unpalatable with all the black spores in the harvested corn. Sweet corn is not as much of a problem - as it's picked immature, and the huitlacoche is usually not that mature either, but field corn has mature spore covered galls in it. When mechanically harvested, just a few sporey galls will spread the sooty stuff all over the harvest. Sort of like one bad apple ruins a batch. But I grow my corn isolated anyway - so it won't cross with other varieties, so the farmers won't mind. Also, it does not spread easily within the year here - and I'm harvesting the stuff so I won't be letting spores overwinter outdoors.

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I don't know anything specific about Huitlacoche, but most spores stay viable for a long time if they are kept dry. You could put them in a sealed container, possibly with a bit of desiccant; and they should be OK next year. Keeping the spores in a freezer may even be better; I keep most of my garden seeds in a chest freezer, which works very well.

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Ok, Britt says just throw it in the freezer and then next spring throw it in your garden and nature will do the rest. :thegenius:

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