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Rapid Growth Syndrome in Corn

Wrapped or twisted whorls in corn can be referred to as Rapid Growth Syndrome. It is also commonly called accelerated growth syndrome, buggy whipping, roping, twisted whorl syndrome, wrapped whorls and onion leafing.  This phenomenon occurs when leaves fail to unfurl properly and become tightly wrapped and twisted. Growers typically begin seeing twisted whorls at V5 to V6 corn. The lower most leaves are normal with the sixth or seventh leaf tightly wrapped.  Young leaves inside the whorl continue to grow but are unable to emerge through the wrapped upper leaves. This continued growth creates pressure which causes the whorl to bend or kink at right angles to the ground.

The cause is typically due to an abrupt transition from slow growing conditions (cool, cloudy days) to rapid development (warm, sunny conditions) which we have observed for the past couple of weeks in June.  Herbicides such as cell growth inhibitors or growth regulators can cause twisted whorls in corn and are often blamed for these symptoms. However, rapid growth syndrome has occurred over the years in many fields where neither class of herbicide was used. Instances of twisted whorls will vary by hybrid due to individual growth characteristics.

In most cases, these whorls will eventually open up and growth will resume normally with no yield loss expected. As these wrapped leaves open up, yellow leaves will become apparent across the field. A few days of sunshine will green them up and the problem will no longer be visible, except for a few crinkled leaf edges left behind caused by their restricted expansion inside the twisted whorl.

Reference:  http://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/news/timeless/TwistedWhorls.html

 

Green snap in corn

It is that time of year when we hear about green snap occurring in corn.  Last year, we came off a very cool April into an unusually warm May/June which caused the corn to grow very rapidly in a short time making it more vulnerable to green snap.  This year, a combination of mild temperatures, plentiful moisture and topdressing of nitrogen kickstarted the corn after a very wet, cool May.  Conditions like this can accelerate corn growth especially during the V5 (5 leaf) to pre-tassel vegetative growth stages which is known as the rapid growth period for corn.  Rapid growing conditions is not a bad thing for corn but it can make it more susceptible to green snap.  Green snap is all about timing.   Wind events, hybrid susceptibility and rapid growing conditions all must occur at the same time. 

What is Green snap?

Green snap, also known as brittle snap, is the breaking of corn plants during a period of rapid growth and development due to extreme wind events.  Corn is most susceptible to green snap from about V5 to VT (tassel).  During this time, the corn plant is rapidly generating new vegetative growth which means rapid cell division and less structural integrity.  When walking corn at knee high or less, the slightest kick to a plant will snap it easily. 

Factors Affecting Green Snap Severity

  • Rapid growing conditions – warm, moist weather, high fertility rates especially nitrogen, high planting populations and conventional tillage (warmer soils)
  • Field topography characteristics and row direction relative to wind direction
  • Application of growth regulator herbicides such as 2,4-D or dicamba, especially applied late or during warm and humid conditions (Figure 1).
  • Hybrid genetic differences – Genetically certain hybrids are more susceptible to green snap especially those with rapid early growth.
  • Timing and severity of wind events

What is the Yield Impact of Green Snap Injury?

  • Plants that green snap at V8 stage or less will typically regrow with 2 tillers (Figure 2).  These tillers will not produce a normal ear, but often will produce a tassel ear which usually gets infected with corn smut and is not harvestable.
  • Plants that green snap at larger than V8 up to VT tend to break right below where the ear will develop.  These plants will not have yield potential for grain and become a non-productive weed using available nutrients and water (Figure 3).
  • Sometimes plants can green snap above the ear during early grain fill (R1 – Blister).  Since over half the carbohydrate to fill the ear come from the top half of the plant, ears on these plants can range from no yield if snap occurs just after pollination (Figure 4) or to only about half the potential if the snap occurs during mid grain fill.
  • Obviously, yield impact varies with the severity and timing of the breakage.  Fields with less than 10% damage will have very little impact on yield because the surrounding plants will compensate for the stand loss with larger ears, benefitting from both more sunlight and nutrients.

Managing the Risk of Green Snap Injury

  • Plant more than one hybrid or maturity.  Hybrids that differ in their genetic makeup and maturity have different windows of green snap susceptibility.  Planting a package of diverse hybrids spreads out the risk of injury.
  • Use caution when post-applying growth regulator type herbicides.  These herbicides can temporarily make the stalk more brittle after application which can increase the potential for green snap injury.  Dicamba-based chemistry is the preferred option over 2,4-D chemistry due to less brittleness and twisting on the plant.  In addition, avoid applying these types of herbicides to corn when the weather forecast indicates severe storm potential within the next 3 days.
  • Consider crop insurance coverage for wind damage for more susceptible fields.     

Spring 2019 N Loss

2019 spring planting has not been kind and has once again taught us that Mother Nature will always reign supreme.  Although we have experienced so many challenges, I don’t think it’s over yet.  It’s time for us to evaluate what has transpired so far and determine if we need to alter any crop management decisions.  Wet patterns like this will force a lot of growers to question how much nitrogen they possibly could have lost.  Figures 1 & 2 below are a few pictures that depict just how much rain we have received in western IA in the past month and the departure from the norm we have received.

As you can see from the above pictures we have experienced widespread rainfall in Western IA the past 30 days and the only question left is how much above the norm are your farms.  Now with this much rain we are bound to lose Nitrogen somewhere due to denitrification or just good ole fashion leaching.  Below are a few key points to think about when assessing potential nitrogen loss

1. Assess yield potential.  Yield potential needs to be assessed before any additional unplanned nitrogen application is made.  Often experience can lead you to making the best decision when it comes to additional nitrogen needs.  Corn that is completely dead in pond situations will need zero additional inputs, on the other hand it could look healthy with good color not yet showing the impacts of nitrogen deficiency.  Key principle #4 below may help make the decision for an operation of the fence with high yield potential corn in the heavy rain belt.  Figure 3, shows the difference that an additional 50 lb of nitrogen can make already in 2019. The picture was taken in NW Missouri by an AgriGold agronomist not expecting to have loss.

2. Nitrate source is the concern.  Nitrogen is susceptible to leaching and denitrification when it is in the nitrate form, not the ammonium form.  Soil has a negative charge and will repel ions of like charges such as Nitrate (NO3- ) & Sulfur (SO42). Ammonium is a positively charged ion and will be held tightly to soil if it does not convert to Nitrate. Two things inhibit Ammonium conversion, soil temps below 50 degrees and an application of a nitrogen stabilizer.  Remember which nitrogen forms that are already in a Nitrate solution before being applied, (Urea-100%, UAN-50%, NH3-0%, AMS-0%)

3. Estimate loss from denitrification and leaching.  Denitrification is triggered when soil organisms run out of oxygen from water logged soils and will then utilize the oxygen found in Nitrates.  Warmer temps dramatically increase denitrification rates.  Nitrogen loss from leaching occurs when excess free water moves through the soil profile and carries free nitrate in solution with it.  In the areas which have received 8+ inches of rain over the last 30 days, significant nitrate leaching, and denitrification has occurred.  It is very difficult to estimate how much N-loss from leaching and denitrification occurred and sometimes we can still get high mineralization in high organic matter situations, but it is unpredictable.  Advantage Acre’s nitrogen modeling tool (Figure 5) can help consolidate information and improve your decision making. 

4. Rainfall data = decision.  The easiest and often the most accurate way to determine if you should apply additional nitrogen is simply based off rainfall totals April – June.  Iowa State University has updated their data estimating the probability of receiving an economic response to additional nitrogen in-season due to excess spring rainfall.  Their data show that if rainfall exceeds 15.5” from April 1-June 30th in western Iowa, there is a 76% probability that additional nitrogen will yield an economic response.1 Figure 4 represents the past 60 days rainfall, with much of the region on the cusp or close to exceeding the 15.5” threshold.  Additional nitrogen will likely pay in 2019 if you are in those areas.

Just like the planting window, time may not be on your side for the rest of the 2019 growing season.  Any additional nitrogen applications could be in a compressed window.  So far, it’s likely that we have experienced a nitrogen loss of some amount.  If conditions persist, N losses may get worse but using nitrogen modeling tools like Advantage Acre (Figure 4) can provide some key insight for decision making.  This nitrogen modeling tool in Advantage Acre helps answer how much you’ve potentially lost and what’s still needed to grow the crop.  As shown in figure 5, rainfall, topography, temperature, application timing and nitrogen source are all used to calculate residual soil nitrogen and nitrogen needed to achieve your yield goal on a field by field basis.  Please reach out to your local AgriGold Key Account Specialist or Agronomist to run some scenarios for yourself.

Sources:

  1. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.  Integrated Crop Management.  Sawyer, John.  https://crops.extension.iastate.edu/cropnews/2018/06/potential-nitrogen-loss-2018
  2. National Weather Service.  https://water.weather.gov/precip/
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