Those Reddish-Pink Ends on the End of Your Corn Are Actually Corn Mold

It's known as Gibberella Ear Rot, and it's a fungus that is commonly found in the fields of the Midwest.

When you’re from the Midwest like I am (specifically Illinois!) you eat a lot of corn. And I don’t mean multiple times a month. I’m talking A LOT of corn—sometimes four to five times in a single week! Whether you’re serving up frozen or shucking ears, corn time is all the time.

But what happens when you start to peel your latest cob haul and see all that nasty pink and red at the top? Well, that’s actually a specific kind of corn mold. Here’s what you need to know.

What Exactly Is Corn Mold?

This particular kind of corn mold is known as Gibberella Ear Rot (or Red Ear Rot). It’s caused by the fungus Gibberella zeae. Yuck! It’s specifically identified by the reddish-pink kernels toward the top of an ear of corn. The kernels themselves will usually also be soft, mushy or shriveled. This kind of mold will typically start toward the top of the ear and travel down as the colony spreads.

What causes Gibberella Ear Rot? Extended periods of rain in the fall can drive up the possibility of this disease significantly. Spores will infiltrate during the silking period and cause infection. This kind of mold will most likely affect corn that’s planted right after corn or wheat, which can also be affected by the same spores.

Here’s how you should store your corn on the cob.

Can Shoppers Avoid It?

Yes, shoppers can avoid it. All you have to do is look for the tell-tale signs.

Make sure the corn you choose has a strong husk and ear. Also be aware of any black, fruiting structures that tend to appear on the outside of husks and shanks. These structures, while not on every single ear of corn affected by the pathogen, are a dead giveaway to which corn you should avoid. Sometimes, stores will even supply a garbage so you may shuck the corn before you head home.

Here’s how to pick the best corn. Happy eating!

Melany Love
Having always wanted a career in writing, Melany couldn't have found a better place than Taste of Home to begin. When she's not scribbling in her notebook or working at her computer, she can be found experimenting with new recipes or relaxing with a book and her cats.