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Green Snap in Corn in 2020 (07/16/20)

When walking through corn plots this past week, I noticed a few plants with broken stems (Figure 1).

When walking through corn plots this past week, Iplsc.2 noticed a few plants with broken stems (Figure 1). Fortunately, the damage was localized and was limited to only a few plants. This type of stem breakage is commonly referred to as green snap or brittle snap. Green snap can occur from V5 to silking. High wind speeds, particularly the strong gusts of wind associated with thunderstorms will often cause breakage during this period of growth when stems are rapidly elongating. Elongating internodes are brittle until after silking when stalk tissues are fully lignified. Once lignified, corn plants are quite resistant to snapping and at that point forward, root lodging will be more likely than snapping as a result of damaging winds.

Plants that snap below the ear node will likely not produce an ear. The later in the growth cycle that the snapping occurs the greater the yield loss as it is difficult for undamaged plants to compensate, though our research shows that some level of compensation does occur. Table 1 summarizes the results of three years of research where varying amounts of plants were broken off at the ear node at three different growth stages.

Hybrids can vary considerably in their resistance to green snap, but plant stage of development when a strong wind occurs can also affect whether a specific field is damage or not. Green snap was widespread in one of our hybrid trials in Traill County in 2016 and again in Ransom County in 2018. We found substantial differences between hybrids in green snap damage (Figure 2). These data show the importance of considering green snap ratings when selecting a hybrid. Currently, genetics is the only practical means of minimizing yield losses associated with this phenomena.

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Joel Ransom

Extension Agronomist, Cereal Crops

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