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The P&PDL Picture of the Week
for 11 August 2003

Soggy Soils, Oxygen Deprivation, & Root Death in Corn

Bob Nielsen, Department of Agronomy, Purdue University

These images illustrate the consequences of five days or more of ponding in a field of corn wherein the "wet holes" had already been replanted once this season. The above-ground symptoms were lodged plants that were wilted and in the process of dying completely. The morbidly interesting below-ground symptom was that of one or more nodes of roots had become gray, swollen, and mushy. An associated symptom was a nauseating odor that most closely resembled that of decomposing pig manure. Indeed, the odor was probably that of methane which is produced during the anerobic (oxygen-deprived) decomposition of organic material. The cause of the root death was likely oxygen deprivation due to the ponding itself and continued saturated soils as the surface water drained away.

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Last updated: 8 August 2003/amd
The Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University