P&PDL Picture of the Week for
September 20, 2010

Short Husks, Exposed Ear

RL (Bob) Nielsen, Department of Agronomy, Purdue University

A curious phenomenon has been reported by several agronomists this year that expresses itself as very short husk leaves with a resulting exposed cob and kernels. I am not aware of a documented cause of this problem.In most cases, the ear itself is relatively normal in size and kernel number, although sometimes the ear shank seems to be unusually long. The plants themselves also appear normal. The primary abnormal symptom is the unusually short husk leaves. I am not sure when the elongation potential of the husk leaves is determined, but it certainly suggests to me that some stress, likely drought, affected that potential without affecting ear size determination or subsequent ear / cob development. The timing of such stress would probably be during the late vegetative stages prior to pollination.

Click image to enlarge

Multiple ears

Exposed ear

Exposed ear

Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab Purdue Cooperative Extension Service