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Will Corn Totally Under Water Survive?

May 04, 2011

Question: I farm in northeast Arkansas. This is my first year for corn. We have been getting hammered with rain all week. I have been running two 12" relifts all week in order to keep the water off of the corn. The ground has been muddy for 7 days but my corn is up on beds, so it has been doing ok. The corn is in the 4-5 leaf stage. We got 5 inches of rain today, and now it is under water. Some of it is completely covered while the rest is only half under water. Now my question: How long will corn survive under water? I have to decide tomorrow morning whether to try to pump it off again or let it go. We have heavy rain forecast for tonight and tomorrow. The river and ditches are overflowing, but I have a road (levee) around the field so I can still pump some of it off. Will the corn be ok if I can get it out of the water by tomorrow night? The ground will still be muddy for several days, possibly weeks. Am I fighting a losing battle, or do I keep fighting? I have no experience with corn so any advice will be appreciated.

Answer:When corn is in the 4-5 leaf stage with this kind of water, my experience has been that its survival and quality of survival will depend on your current air-soil temperatures.  If the temperatures are in the 45- to 60-degree range, the corn could actually survive being under water for about three days.  If the temperature is in the 65- to 80-degree range, however, the plant respiration is so high that after 24 hours there would be a lot of damage.  The other problem you have is that any time water goes over the top of corn there will be soil that gets down into the whorl of the corn.  The soil that gets in to the whorl contributes to crazy top in the corn, so even if it survives there’ll be a percentage of that corn that will be negatively impacted.  If the tops are sticking out and only the base is covered, then you probably have about three days of leeway.  If it’s completely under water and temperatures are warm, your window is pretty limited. I am posting links to some additional online resources for your consideration and evaluation. Best of luck to you as you address this tough situation.
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