If you have noticed a proliferation of foul-smelling, obscene-looking mushrooms popping up in fields this season, there is no cause for alarm. These aptly named “stinkhorn” fungi tend to produce their mushrooms in fertile soil when conditions are wet. Stinkhorn species prefer soils enriched with manure, wood chips, and other organic debris. As decomposers, they help with composting soil, and they pose no threat to healthy plants. Their obnoxious dung and rotten-meat smells attract flies that feed on their gelatinous masses of spores and disperse them to other locations that flies frequent. The stinkhorns are members of the fungus family Phallaceae, which includes a number of phallic-shaped mushroom species as well as other bizarre mushrooms that mycologists tend to find charming (google “devil’s fingers” or “veiled lady stinkhorn”, for example). If you don’t find them attractive, you’ll just have to wait for them to go away as soil conditions change; there is no reasonable method to get rid of them.
Stinkhorns in Corn and Soybean Fields
Crop Observation and Recommendation Network
C.O.R.N. Newsletter is a summary of crop observations, related information, and appropriate recommendations for Ohio crop producers and industry. C.O.R.N. Newsletter is produced by the Ohio State University Extension Agronomy Team, state specialists at The Ohio State University and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). C.O.R.N. Newsletter questions are directed to Extension and OARDC state specialists and associates at Ohio State.