Pro Farmer Editors
University of Illinois agronomist Emerson Nafziger says he doesn't want
to raise a general alarm about the Illinois corn crop that is forecast to be
the third-highest on record, but he has some concern about shortened corn ears
that are being reported in more fields than expected.
"Though the appearance of the corn crop is good in most fields where
water has not been severely limiting over the past month, I reported in an
online "Alert" two weeks ago that ears in some fields are shorter
than expected. The phenomenon appears to be widespread, and it may be more
common in fields that were planted and then pollinated relatively early,"
He says there may be more than one cause of shortened ears. "The most
widespread problem is ears that are "nosed back," with unfilled cob
tips. Cobs appear to be normal length," says Nafziger. "The outer
end of the cob is without kernel remnants, indicating that fertilization of
tip kernels failed. Between this area and the developing kernels, we often find
remnants of aborted kernels, where fertilization took place and kernels started
to accumulate dry matter, and then stopped. Aborted kernels range in size from
small, empty seed coats to kernels perhaps one-fourth the size of normal kernels,
and with some visible contents, often with yellow color."
to additional comments by Nafziger on shortened ears.