Assessing Corn Stalk Quality

pioneerAssessing Corn Stalk Quality

Hot and dry conditions across parts of N OH this growing season, especially during grain fill, placed a significant amount of drought stress on many corn fields. Even though much of the area has received rainfall over the past week, the effects of the drought stress are still apparent. As we enter the late stages of grain fill, now is the time to be checking stalk integrity. Anytime the environment reduces the plants ability to photosynthesize and produce energy during grainfill, the corn plant will sacrifice energy from the vegetative growth (stalks and roots primarily) to fill the ear. When this happens the plant tissue is weakened, which predisposes the tissue to disease and increases the likelihood of lodging.

Careful scouting and harvesting fields according to crop condition can help prevent field losses due to low stalk quality. Scouting fields approximately two to three weeks prior to the expected harvest date can identify fields with weak stalks predisposed to lodging. Fields with high lodging potential should be slated for early harvest. Weak stalks can be detected by pinching the stalk at the first or second elongated internode above the ground. If the stalk collapses, advanced stages of stalk rot are indicated. Another technique is to push the plant sideways about 8 to 12 inches at ear level. If the stalk crimps near the base or fails to return to the vertical position, stalk rot is indicated. Check 20 plants in five areas of the field. If more than 10 to 15% of the stalks are rotted, that field should be considered for early harvest.

Article courtesy of Pioneer Agronomy Sciences


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