Agronomy Talk

Agronomy Talk: Short Husking

Published on Thursday, October 03, 2019

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Short husking is best described as “corn ears outgrowing their husks.” It results in more exposure of the ear tips to environmental conditions and increases the potential for reduced grain quality.

WHAT CAUSES SHORT HUSKING?

The exact causes of short husking are not well documented. However, short husking tends to be expressed following periods of moderate to severe environmental stress prior to or during pollination that is relieved shortly thereafter.

Primary causes can include: heat stress, drought stress, stalk lodging, hybrid genetics

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Typically, short husking occurs after periods of heat and/or drought stress directly prior to or during the pollination process followed by cooler conditions with adequate water following pollination. During pollination, the goal of a corn crop is to make grain, even if that comes at the expense of the plant’s growth. As conditions improve, near-normal ear development resumes. Vegetative plant growth parts, including husks, can become permanently stunted. The visual symptoms can be identified by husks that are about half the size of their normal counterparts with exposed ear tips. These ear tips can become damaged by insects, birds, and weathering from the environment resulting in reduced grain quality.

CONTROL MEASURES

Unfortunately, once the stress has occurred, there are no known control measures and the husks are permanently shortened. Farmers should evaluate on a field by field basis and change harvest priorities accordingly to minimize overall losses in grain quality.

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