December 16, 2014
Predictions you read here and elsewhere from crop consultants, plant breeders and Extension specialists told you to expect stalk rot problems in many areas of the Midwest. There might also be bouts of ear rots in certain areas, they said, that could result in grain with damaged kernels and also toxins that affect livestock.
Standing tall: Note that stalks in this plot harvested in the last few days were still standing, with no lodging evident in any of the plots.
For the most part, those predictions didn't seem to come true, at least not in many areas. Instead, many fields, even those harvested in early to mid-November, were still standing tall at harvest. In one instance in a plot field, I personally checked for stalk rot by pushing plants up and down rows, and found that almost every one snapped back. In this particular plot there was zero lodging.
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There were a few plants that were 'hooked,' showing some elbowing. Local experts who also worked with the plot felt that since it wasn't severe, it was most likely due to some strong storms while soils were wet earlier in the season, and not corn rootworm damage.
No inspection was made for rootworm damage. Nearly all of these plants still produced normal ears. The problem affected maybe 2 to 3% of the plants in some areas, and signs of it weren't even evident in other areas.
In one Purdue University Hybrid trial plot where results have already been reported, the columns for lodging and stalks standing all looked the same for every entry. There was no lodging and 100% of stalks standing in every hybrid. That's unusual, even in normal years.
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What prompted some to expect stalk lodging and/or development of stalk rots and ear molds was cool, fairly wet weather that favored certain diseases. Any stress on the plant can set it up for stalk rot. Also, some fields ran out of nitrogen in late August, and also began to show disease pressure at the same time. Despite these factors, many fields still withstood the tests of the season, and didn't lodge.
For more corn news, corn crop scouting information and corn diseases to watch for, follow Tom Bechman's column, Corn Illustrated Weekly, published every Tuesday.
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