If you saw abnormal corn ear development in your fields this year, you weren’t alone. During the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour, a number of farmers across the Midwest reported seeing curved, bent and/or twisted ears in their cornfields.
Bent ears develop when variations in kernel set occur on one side of the corn ear versus the other, notes Missy Bauer, Farm Journal associate field agronomist.
She offers three explanations, all nutrient deficiencies, for the development of bent ears.
“Under nitrogen stress or drought we can see kernel abortion down one side of the ear and not the other side, causing the ear to bend when the kernels on the good side continue to grow and develop,” she explains. “The thing I look for is kernel abortion on the tip or coming down one side of the ear.”
Bauer says if the tip of the corn ear is curved and only partially filled up, the issue may be a boron deficiency.
Twisted corn ears or irregular kernel rows indicate a phosphorus deficiency.
An ear-leaf tissue test and a soil sample will confirm the cause of abnormal ear development.
For more information on abnormal corn ear development and the factors that contribute to it, check out the information and poster of examples, provided by the Ohio State University, at the following link.