Indiana Crop Adviser Conference
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Drought-Stressed Kernel Secrets: For Your Ears Only
The size, placement, and amount of kernel set on the corn ear documents when this ear was subjected to environmental stress and the severity of this stress. Four critical periods of ear growth and development are substantially influenced by environmental stress. In general, ear responses at these specific times include: „1 A reduction in the number of kernel rows around the ear if substantial stress occurs at or just before ear initiation (approximately V7). „2 A reduction in the number of kernels along the length of the ear or a shorter ear if substantial environmental stress occurs from the late vegetative phase until just before pollination. „3 A portion of the cob that may be completely barren if substantial environmental stress occurs during pollination. „4 A portion of the cob that shows either very small kernels or kernel die-back if substantial environmental stress occurs during grain fill. Understanding how corn ears respond to stress can help determine what stress was present, when this stress occurred, and how to mitigate this stress in the future.