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Ask an Agronomist

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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.

Purpling in Corn Caused by Pigment

Sep 12, 2011

Two weeks ago, Farm Journal received a question from a southern Minnesota farmer who asked about the potential impact of purple leaves in corn, and whether he should be concerned about it for the 2012 season. We responded to his question in the August 30 edition of Ask An Agronomist. That same day, we received a brief response on this topic from Dr. John Pesek, Iowa State University emeritus professor of agronomy, which we want to share with you. Here is Dr. Pesek’s feedback for your consideration:

“The absence of an ear in late summer (for whatever reason), or having only a poorly pollinated nubbin will cause an accumulation of sugars produced by photosynthesis in the plant if the growing conditions are good, and sunny days prevail.  The sugars will accumulate and lead to a production of anthocyanin (a pigment) in many corn hybrids with the capacity to show purple for whatever reason—thus the purple plant.”
-John Pesek
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