P&PDL Picture of the Week for
September 29, 2008

Corn Lodging

Bob Nielsen, Extension Corn Production Specialist, Department of Agronomy, Purdue University

A few of you have called with questions about the consequences of severe stalk breakage from the strong winds of the recent remnant of Hurricane Ike. If you have not yet noticed, there is a short compilation of info at the Chat 'n Chew Cafe on stalk lodging issues in corn. This includes a list of combine attachments that can be useful in helping pick up lodged corn.

Some of the key issues with severely lodged corn are listed below. Unfortunately, the consequences of many of them are simply unavoidable. The sooner farmers can harvest these fields, the better, with the understanding that grain moisture still needs to be low enough to avoid mechanical injury by the combine (no wetter than about 25 to 27% moisture).

Key Risks of Stalk Lodged Corn Late in the Season

  • Obviously, the mechanical challenges of harvesting severely downed corn and the risk of significant mechanical harvest loss (see above).

  • The risk of further disease development (addressed in the last P&C).

  • The risk of kernels sprouting on the ear due to prolonged contact or near contact with the moisture and higher humidity of the soil surface.

  • The deterioration of grain quality resulting from the previous two issues.

  • The likely delay in grain drying due to prolonged contact or near contact with the surface of the soil or the "shading" of the ears by stalks and leaves of adjacent lodged plants.

  • The premature development of kernel black layer (physiological maturity) if severe stalk breakage occurred while the grain was still immature, with the consequence of lower yields.

  • The likely greater challenge of successfully storing the grain in good condition if some or all of the above issues result in poor quality grain being put into the bin.

Click image to enlarge

corn lodging

Stalk lodging from 60 - 100 mph winds of remnant Hurricane
Ike ~ 10 days earlier

corn lodging

Closer view of broken stalk

corn lodging

Closer view of crimped stalk

corn lodging

Broken or crimped stalks

corn lodging

Ear of lodged plant touching the ground

Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab Purdue Cooperative Extension Service