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Why is my corn purple?

That’s one of several questions you may be asking this year as you try to cope with another unusual Mid-South spring.

Many corn fields suffer from poor early plant health, particularly during cool, wet springs, like the past couple of years, says Erick Larson, Extension corn specialist with Mississippi State University.

Writing in this week’s Mississippi Crop Situation, Larson says problems like purple corn can be caused by a multitude of factors, but normally can be attributed to nutritional limitations and/or poor root development.

“Considering that this season’s corn crop has experienced much drier conditions than normal, I don’t expect we will experience as many early season nutritional problems as normal. This is because warm, well aerated soils enhance root growth and promote early vigor, which has been very evident thus far this season,” he says.

“In fact, Mississippi’s irrigated corn has historically yielded much better when rainfall was very low during April and May. For these reasons, I also would not rush to initiate irrigation this early in the season, particularly for fields with furrow irrigation, which will saturate soil.”

For more this and other crop production topics, go to

TAGS: Corn
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