Originally published in the Chat 'n Chew Cafe, May 1996 (Updated May 2000)
URL: http://www.kingcorn.org/news/articles.00/Silver_Leaf-0516.html

Silver Leaf Symptom in Corn

R.L. (Bob) Nielsen
Agronomy Dept., Purdue Univ.
West Lafayette, IN 47907-1150
Email address: rnielsen@purdue.edu

While recent mornings have been quite chilly, there have been few reported instances of significant frost and its accompanying damage to young corn. However, if you've been out walking your corn fields recently, you have probably noticed a curious leaf 'symptom' that somewhat resembles frost damage or you may think of freezer burn.

Radiational cooling of leaves on clear, calm nights with temperatures in the mid- to upper 30's can result in damage to the outer surfaces of corn leaves that are positioned horizontally or parallel to the night sky. The subsequent symptom of such minor damage is what many refer to as 'silver leaf' in corn. The 'silver leaf' symptom indeed appears as silvery or dull gray leaf surfaces. Any portion of a leaf that was not horizontal to the sky or that was protected by another leaf or plant part will not exhibit the symptom.

Silver Leaf in Corn
Other Images
Image 1 | Image 2 | Image 3

Bottom Line

The effect of this type of minor leaf damage is negligible, if any. The leaves will not die abruptly as will severely frosted leaf tissue. Continued expansion of the whorl will not be restricted in any way. New leaves that expand from the whorl will be normal in appearance. This symptom is more of a curiosity than a nuisance.

Corn Growers GuidebookFor other information about corn, take a look at the Corn Growers Guidebook on the World Wide Web at http://www.kingcorn.org

It is the policy of the Purdue Agronomy Department that all persons shall have equal opportunity and access to its programs and facilities without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability. Purdue University is an Affirmative Action employer. This material may be available in alternative formats.
© 2000, Purdue University
End of document