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Strong Winds Causes Significant Damage to Corn Crop (7/21/11)

Last week winds reported to be as high as 70 mph associated with the storm system that moved through the southeastern portion of the state caused significant damage to corn crops.

At this early stage of corn development, high winds can cause root lodging or greensnap (stem breakage).  Root lodging occurs most frequently during the mid-growing season before brace roots are established and when soils are wet.  Greensnap, on the other hand, occurs when the force of the wind is sufficient to cause the stalk to break.  Greensnap is most common during rapid vegetative growth and before stems mature and are lignified.  Breakage usually occurs on the lower portion of the plant, particularly before tasseling.  Most of the damage that I saw this past week was due to greensnap.  In fact I did not see any root lodging during my recent travels.  Plants that have been “snapped” (see accompanying picture) will not produce an ear, though some tillering may occur in fields that were heavily damaged to give the impression that the crop is filling in the missing plants.  Greensnap damage to corn

In 2008 to 2010 we conducted research in Prosper to determine the yield loss associated with corn removed at various vegetative stages.  These data suggest that there will be only limited compensation in yield by plants not removed (Table 1). 

There are no data that I am aware of that suggests applying a fungicide to fields damaged by greensnap would be beneficial.  The plants that have been snapped will not produce an ear, and the remaining plants will not be more prone to diseases that are effectively controlled by fungicides. 

Percent yield reduction table

Joel Ransom - Extension Agronomist for Cereal Crops

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