If the whole field looked like the plant with the curled-up whorl with leaves fighting to get out, you would have cause for concern. When this is the only plant like this we found in the Crop Watch field, it's an oddity worth mentioning but certainly not a situation worth worrying about.
Various things can cause plants to twist up and for leaves to have trouble getting out of the whorl. Bob Nielsen, Purdue University Extension corn specialist, says hail can cause that effect if the hail is large enough to damage the whorl. He discusses assessing hail damage in the July issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer.
Crop Watch 6/20: Corn in Crop Watch Field Brings Growing Point Above Ground
Obviously hail isn't the problem here. It's one single plant in a row next to normal plants. Since it's on an end row in a field with lots of end rows, perhaps it is herbicide injury. Why this was the only plant affected would be more difficult to explain.
Perhaps some sort of injury affected it as it came out of the ground. There were a few other plants in a different location that had weird-shaped leaves, but not like this one. Again it was three or four plants, not a whole row.
The best thing you can do, most consultants say, is to note this and not worry about it. When you have 30,000 plants per acre, sometimes something will go haywire. When it only happens to one or two plants and the rest of the field looks healthy and isn't showing any symptoms, it's obviously not a cause for concern.
Crop Watch 6/23: Yellow Spots Deserve Watching for Nitrogen Deficiency
We will try to keep an eye on this plant just to see what might happen to it in the future. Is it doomed, or will the leaves get out and will it grow and produce an ear? Only time will tell.