Farmers See Abnormal Ear Development This Season
If you saw abnormal corn ear development in your fields this year, you weren’t alone. We’ve received a number of reports and questions from farmers across the Midwest who saw various corn ear abnormalities – including curved, bent and twisted ears.
Bent ears develop when variations in kernel set occur on one side of the corn ear versus the other. Various nutrient deficiencies and drought typically contribute to the problem.
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. The thing I look for is kernel abortion on the tip or coming down one side of the ear.
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 can indicate insufficient phosphorus. Pull an ear leaf tissue test and a soil sample to rule out a boron or phosphorus deficiency.
For more information on abnormal corn ear development and the factors that contribute to it, check out the excellent information and poster of examples provided by the Ohio State University at the following link.
This blog is provided as an interactive way for you to have your questions answered by our Farm Journal Agronomists. E-mail your nitrogen, soil fertility, soil density, planter set up, scouting, and other questions to TestPlots@FarmJournal.com.