Agronomy Talk

Agronomy Update

Storm Winds and Heavy Rain Cause Root Lodging in Missouri Fields

Published on Wednesday, June 22, 2016

We received high storm winds with rainfall Monday night in much of Northern Missouri and there are a lot of acres with corn blown over or down (root lodging). I have not heard of any significant greensnap which is good.

A few key points to remember:

  1. Lodging is more severe where root systems have been compromised. The most important thing to do outside of estimating potential yield loss is to learn the “why” in severely lodged fields. There is nothing we can do about high winds, but understanding the reason(s) for compromised root systems is always important.

    • Is there a consistent variety susceptibility associated with root development? What is the stage of brace root development at time of wind event?

    • Was corn planted too shallow?

    • What was the impact of soil fertility and pH on root growth and development?

    • What as the impact of general and/or sidewall soil compaction on root growth and development?

    • Was there any corn rootworm feeding?

    • Did early cold, wet soil conditions have an impact? In our case this year, did fallow corn syndrome impact root development on last year’s prevent acres?

     Beck's dealer Sam Sullivan of Sullivan Ag Service showing lodged corn hooking and straightening to vertical 24 to 36 hours after high storm wind event.

     Difference in leeward side (side of stalk opposite of wind) brace root development between corn that stood better on left and corn that laid over at a greater angle on right.
  2. Taller, better growing corn hybrids, with greater stalk diameter and weight at the time of wind event often take a harder hit because there is greater stalk surface area for the wind force to act upon and a higher center of gravity. This can occur across seed suppliers and genetics.

  3. As long as greensnap has not occurred, corn plants will likely straighten back up within two to three days, resulting in a “gooseneck” appearance. The angle of the below-ear stalk relative to the soil surface will decrease at greater maturities.

  4. There is often yield decrement observed and the impact on yield is directly related to corn growth stage. Some great research done on this was performed by Carter and Hudelson at the University of Wisconsin (Carter, P.R. and K.D. Hudelson. 1988. J. Prod. Agric. 1:295-299). In their research they simulated wind-induced lodging at different growth stages for two years by applying heavy amounts of irrigation water to soil and then pushing over stalks at different growth stages. Their findings (average range) are listed below:

    • 2 to 6% yield loss in the V10 to V12 growth stages

    • 5 to 15% yield loss in the V13 to V15 growth stages

    • 12 to 31% yield loss in the pre-VT to VT growth stages

  5. Reasons for yield loss include:

    • Reduced light penetration onto leaves (Iowa State showed up to 28% less)

    • The plant photosynthetic energy required to “straighten” out the stalk isn’t used to produce grain

    • Interference with pollination due to varied plant angles and silks covered by stalks at abnormal angles

  6. As far as management, combine speeds will need to be reduced when harvesting your more severely goose-necked fields. Pick-up reels and/or multi-directional heads may be required on more severe fields. If variety susceptibility is observed, select varieties with stronger stalk and lodging scores next season. Always, always, always pay attention to soil pH, fertility, organic matter management and health as these soil properties strongly influence the soil’s function in promoting and sustaining optimum crop root growth and development.

If you have any questions, please reach out to myself or your Beck's seed advisor or dealer.


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David Hughes

David Hughes

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