P&PDL Picture of the Week for
September 12, 2005

Popped Kernels and Silk Cut

Bob Nielsen, Extension Corn Production Specialist, Purdue University

Among a number of corny oddities reported this year throughout Indiana is one that falls into the "kernel disorder" category. A crop consultant from eastern Indiana recently reported on the occurrence of a symptom in a seed corn production field known as "popped kernels". In his words, "...the kernels appear diagonally sliced. Each sliced half is then folded back exposing the endosperm, which later receives the fungal attack."

The popped kernel symptom and the related "silk-cut" symptom are indeed corny oddities in that they rarely occur in commercial hybrids in Indiana and occasionally occur at significant levels in seed corn inbreds. Unfortunately, when the symptoms do occur, they predispose the affected kernels to attack by ear-rotting fungal organisms.

The causes are unknown, but are believed to be related to stressful conditions following pollination. A report from Texas, for example, suggests that the silk-cut symptom occurs quite frequently in areas of south Texas prone to late-season drought stress (Odvody et al., 1997).

For more information on popped kernels, please click here

Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab Purdue Cooperative Extension Service