We have lots of corn falling down in the Bootheel. I saw it in my field last night and my first thought was, it was too wet after and the corn never developed a good root system. I brought some to our “morning meeting” where we discussed possible causes. Our former Regional Agronomist for New Madrid County, Jeff House, was there and forwarded me an email from Greg Pfeffer the Area Agronomist for Southeast Missouri with Pioneer Hi-Bred International discussing this problem. (Thanks for the info guys).
There are many reasons that this could happen, but since it is fairly widespread and the conditions were right, it is most likely due to the wet spring followed by a dry period. During the wet period, the roots didn’t have to grow deep to hit moisture and there was lots of above ground growth during that time; then we dried up quickly. That set the stage for poor root development which means the root mass isn’t there to support the above ground plant tissue. Some people refer to this as “rootless corn syndrome” or “floppy corn”. For more information about this condition you can click on links from the University of Missouri, Iowa State University or Purdue University.
Recommendations to ease this problem include:
- If the corn is small enough to cultivate, cultivation can move dirt to the base of the plant and offer some support while the root system recovers.
- Irrigate. Saturating the soil will stimulate the root growth – irrigating until the top inch of the soil is saturated is ideal.