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Will This Be a 'Crazy' Year for Corn Growers?Will This Be a 'Crazy' Year for Corn Growers?

Corn Illustrated: Wet to ponded soils early sets stage for crazy top disease later in season.

Tom Bechman

June 13, 2014

2 Min Read

The spring has started like many feared early on – a few windows to get crops in but primarily on the cool and wet side. The wet side continued this past week as rains moved across the Midwest and into the Eastern Corn Belt. Wet holes were just starting to dry out when more rain arrived.

That's going to make a crazy week once it does dry out for finishing planting, if you choose to do so, and for sidedressing or applying rescue nitrogen, plus spraying postemergence on corn if that is part of your game plan.


Meanwhile, a disease that is sometimes considered more of a novelty than a threat could have a strong foothold in some fields. Given the right conditions, it can become severe enough to threaten yields in individual fields or parts of fields.

Corn Illustrated 6/10: Corn Will Hit Growth Spurt Soon

The disease is known as crazy top, where the tops of corn plants produce unusual growth instead of a tassel. Obviously, the plants don't contribute to yield. It's a fungal disease which can result in a mass of unorganized leaves instead of a tassel on the plant.

The key to this pathogen is that if it is going to show up later, it has likely already infected the plant. It infects the growing point in saturated or ponded soils, and produces abnormal flowering once the plant reached that stage of development.

While it seldom causes an economic loss, it can in certain situations. It's a sign that soils were wet and saturated when the plant was trying to grow earlier in the season.

According to the Purdue University Corn & Soybean pocket Field Guide or its companion iPad app, you can avoid planting in wet conditions, which was tough this spring, or avoid planting corn in low, wet areas in fields with a history of this disease. There is no cure once the symptoms appear.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm, Indiana Prairie Farmer

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