As the 1996 corn growing season begins to wind down and harvest begins to wind up around the state, take the time to walk some corn fields prior to harvest and take notes on the following items of interest.
Stalk Breakage. Check fields for evidence of weak stalks or outright stalk breakage, either due to stalk rots or European corn borer (ECB) tunneling. A windshield survey can identify those fields that merit thorough scouting.
Plants with red upper leaves or whole plants that are red instead of green likely signal European corn borer infestation. Random plants or random areas of the field that appear to be dying prematurely often signal the development of stalk rots.
Every so often as you walk down a row, push a corn stalk. If it snaps or remains leaning, the stalk integrity has been compromised. Or, if you are into aerobics, bend over and pinch the lower stalk internodes to determine if stalk rots have developed. If possible, schedule those fields with obvious stalk problems for early harvest to minimize the potential for significant yield loss.
Ear Droppage. In those same ECB-infested fields whose stalk integrity you question, also estimate the extent to which the ECB larvae have tunneled into the ear shanks. Extensive tunneling in the ear shanks can easily cause extensive ear droppage as the plants mature. As with stalk problems, schedule those fields with ear drop potential for early harvest.
Ear Development. While you are looking for problems, also take the time to inspect the success of kernel set on some of the ears. One rule of thumb suggests that if ears are well-filled all the way to the tip, then the plant population was too low for the conditions the field experienced this year. Conversely, a plant population that is 'just right' should exhibit ears with a half-inch or more of barren tip.
Return to the the Chat 'n Chew Cafe.
The Corn Growers Guidebook , a WWW resource for corn management systems in Indiana and the eastern CornBelt.
Purdue University Agronomy Extension WWW Home Page.
Purdue Agronomy On-Line! , Purdue's Agronomy Department WWW Home Page.