As crops approach maturity and harvest begins, standability could become a concern in some corn fields.
Corn fields across the Eastern Corn Belt have experienced various environmental factors that create stress conditions for the plant and as a result, stalk rots could become an issue late in the season. Ohio State University Bulletin 802 states: “The severity of stalk rot is confounded by plant stress. In general, the greater the stress the plant endures, the greater the severity of stalk rot. This has been demonstrated very well with plant nutrition. Plants with excessively high levels of nitrogen or with an imbalance between nitrogen and potassium are very susceptible to stalk rot. Plants stressed by drought (especially late season drought), foliage disease, or insect injury generally have more stalk rot.”
Many corn fields have experienced nitrogen loss, leaf disease, and insect damage this year. Some areas of the Eastern Corn Belt have experienced dry conditions late in the season as well. Growers should walk fields prior to harvest and scout for stalk rots, looking for discoloration of the inside and/or outside of stalks and performing the “pinch test” on stalks to identify areas where lodging could occur. Where standability is a concern, corn should be harvested as soon as possible after reaching physiological maturity to avoid losses due to stalk breakage and lodging. For more detailed information about stalk rots, check out these links: Stress During Grain Fill: A Harbinger of Stalk Health Problems and Corn Disease Management in Ohio.