In the ear head, a pink to red liquid is secreted from the infected florets (honeydew). It can drop on the foliage and onto the ground. The liquid contains a large amount of conidia. Infected florets do not produce grains. Black fungal masses replace the seeds.
The symptoms are caused by the fungus Claviceps fusiformis. Five to seven days after infection, honeydew is secreted. The honeydew promotes a secondary infection of the florets. Spores can be spread via rain, wind and insects. Ergot can lead to severe health problems for humans and animals in case of consumption. The fungus survives throughout the year in plant residues. Favorable conditions are a relative humid climate and temperatures between 20 to 39°C.
Antagonistic organisms show promising results in reducing the incidence of ergot in millet. Trichoderma harzianum, T. viride, Aspergillus niger, Epicoccum andropogonis and Bacillus subtilis can be sprayed to flowering millet head. Alternatively crude Neem products can also be used.
Always consider an integrated approach with preventive measures together with biological treatments if available. Due to limited effectiveness and economical justification, chemical control mechanisms are seldom considered. Fungicides containing ziram or carbendazim were effective and can be used to control and prevent ergot.