What causes purple corn?

Cool and wet weather at early stages of corn development, as we are experiencing this year, are ideal for the appearance of purple plants. What causes the plants to become purple? Some of the reasons are given below:

• Purple leaves are caused by a pigment called anthocyanin. When sugars produced by the chlorophyll cannot be deposited in the growing stalks, leaves, and roots, they are converted to anthocyanin pigment which is red to purple in color.

• Acidic soils with pH lower than 5.5 may also cause seedling purpling.

• Wet soils can also inhibit the nutrient uptake and cause purple leaves.

• Purpling generally occurs between V2 to V5 stages of growth. By V8, purple leaf syndrome disappears and color becomes normal healthy green again.

• Any plant stresses which reduce uptake of phosphorus may result in purple leaves and stalks. Root restrictions may also cause phosphate deficiency symptoms. Purple leaves may also indicate real phosphate deficiency in the soil.

• Soil compaction can make it difficult for the small roots to penetrate and absorb nutrients and seedlings show phosphate deficiency symptoms.

• Warmer days and cool nights can cause purpling of leaves. Sunny and warmer temperatures help in the development of green color.

• Even in the adult stage, if sugars produced by leaves cannot be deposited into the ears because of insect damage in the stalks such as corn borer holes, it gets deposited in stalks as reddish to purple anthocyanin.

• Herbicide and insect injury can also cause stress and purple leaves.

• The genetics of some hybrids tends to exhibit purpling at the seedling stage which later disappears. Purple color does not cause slower growth in seedlings and yield reduction

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