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Have your agronomic questions answered by a Farm Journal agronomist. E-mail us directly at, and we’ll respond on this blog to provide an interactive dialogue.

What Is Corn Ear Tip Back?

Aug 20, 2010

Question: What causes corn tip back? I’ve been hearing that phrase quite a bit lately. 

Answer: Unfortunately, we’re hearing about and seeing quite a bit of tip back, too. It means that corn pollination wasn’t fully successful, so the tips of the ears were unable to fill with kernels or were aborted. Either way, the result is lower yields than what might have been possible under better conditions. A variety of stresses can contribute to this problem, and it just depends on the year. This year, I believe two of the main culprits are a lack of nutrients, particularly nitrogen, some of which may have been leached by rains earlier in the season, and the high temperatures a lot of the Midwest has encountered over the past four to six weeks. Insects, disease and drought can also contribute to the problem.
The main factors affecting nitrogen loss are weather, temperature and drainage.
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
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