Legend Seeds Blog

Agronomy Alert: Corn Stalk Lodging


Not only did last week bring lots of rain, but with the rain came lots of wind. This wind has confirmed what we have been fearing for weeks now, that our corn plants have been riddled with diseases causing them to have weak stalks. Most of the plants that broke had stalk breakage above the ear, which won’t affect harvest, but it won’t take much more wind to break them below the ear.


Most of these stalk issues are derived from Anthracnose. Once the plant is infected, it is susceptible to many kinds of stalk rots from Crown Rot to Gibberella. In all these cases, the stalk decays prematurely and can become weak from the ground level to the tassel.


To properly assess your risk for stalk lodging, we encourage you to check your fields for stalk strength. There are three very simple ways to do this: Push Test, Pinch Test, and Splitting Stalk.

• Push Test: Place your hand above the ear and push the corn stalk into the next row until the top of the plant touches the neighboring corn row (about a 45-degree angle). As you release the plant, some will spring back to an upright position and others will be lodged over. If 10-15 percent or more of the plants are weak, that means that field is at risk for lodging and should be harvested early.

• Pinch Test: Pinch the stalk between your fingers six to twelve inches above the ground. Weak stalks will feel hollow and easily collapse. Strong stalks will be very hard to pinch. Stalks that are easily compressed are at risk of lodging and fields with 10-15 percent or more soft stalks should be targeted for early harvest.
• Splitting Stalks: The most accurate way to determine stalk rot issues is to cut a stalk open and look for discoloration or shredded pith in the stalk. Be sure to split stalks, especially below the soil line into the root zone to check for crown rot or discoloration.

Using these three methods to assess your corn fields is a good way to prioritize harvest of those fields at risk.