By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.
While scouting corn fields this spring, some farmers in the eastern Corn Belt may have noticed strange looking corn plants with new growth that was yellow and leaves that were wrinkled randomly spread throughout their field. This a phenomenon is referred to as “Rapid Growth Syndrome.” In many areas of our sales footprint weather conditions were such that our agronomists and sales staff observed plants affected by Rapid Growth Syndrome. Corn plants are usually affected by this issue is in the V5 to V6 stages of growth. This phenomenon is usually associated with an abrupt change in weather. Twisted whorls can appear when corn plants shift from a period of slow growth (in cool, cloudy weather) to more rapid growth (warm, sunny weather).
Symptoms of Rapid Growth Syndrome include bent-over plants and tightly wrapped whorls that keep younger leaves from emerging. Once younger leaves emerge, they are often yellow but turn green after a few days. In one area Seed Consultants’ staff observed corn plants with leaves that were notched or shredded due to similar rapid growth conditions. This issue seemed more wide spread in 2016 because more areas were affected periods of cooler wet weather followed by warm weather that promoted rapid growth.
The important question is, “Does Rapid Growth Syndrome diminish corn yields?” According to Bob Nielsen in his article Wrapped and Twisted Whorls in Corn, “Yield effects from periods of twisted growth caused by weather-related causes are minimal, if any.” Growers who observed twisted whorls and notched or wrinkled leaves in their corn fields this spring should keep in mind that plants will recover from this phenomenon and yields will not be significantly affected.