Corn Stalk Quality
From the end of July through the end of August our area received about half of the solar radiation compared to the twenty year average. Lack of full sunlight, combined with leaf diseases reduce green leaf area that convert sunlight into plant energy. Many plants have been unable to provide the energy needs for filling out kernel depth. In addition to cloudy days and foliar disease, stresses like nitrogen deficiencies, excessively wet/dry soils, and poor root development are other challenges to consider this year. When the plant is unable to supply the ear with the photosynthate needed, it begins to cannibalize carbohydrates from other areas of the plant. University studies have indicated that during grain fill 60-70% of the non-fiber carbohydrates are translocated. As the carbohydrates are mobilized from the stalk and root, these structures begin to decline and lose their resistance to soil-borne pathogens. This increases the susceptibility of the plant to root and stalk rots. Please refer to the
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to the left to familiarize yourself to the multiple stalk rots we could encounter.
Weak stalks can be detected by pinching the stalk at the first or second elongated internode above the ground. If the stalk collapses, advanced stages of stalk rot are indicated. Another technique is to push the plant sideways about 8 to 12 inches at ear level. If the stalk crimps near the base or fails to return to the vertical position, stalk rot is indicated. Check 20 plants in five areas of the field. If more than 10 to 15% of the stalks are rotted, that field should be considered for early harvest.