Planting rush corkscrews corn


Much of Ontario’s corn crop has shot out of the ground and is carrying tremendous yield potenial as June draws near.

But while many growers are reporting corn emerging as quickly as five days after planting, RealAgriculture agronomist Peter Johnson has noticed a significant number of corn kernels that are corkscrewing underground, with plants struggling to emerge. If they do emerge, it’s unlikely the wonky plants will contribute to the overall stand.

In the fields Johnson has walked in southwestern, Ont., he’s seeing corkscrewed plants that are reducing field populations anywhere from 1,500 to 3,000 plants. While stand loss of five to 10 percent with seeding rates of 34,000 to 35,000 seeds per acre is not uncommon, Johnson is seeing fields with stand counts as low as 29,000 to 30,000 plants.

RealAgriculture’s Peter Johnson says corn corkscrewing is the product of a rushed planting season.

“This looks like a situation where growers, in a rush to put that corn in as quickly as possible, have pushed fields just a day earlier than they should have,” says Johnson. “When you get that compacted sidewall we tend to see corn seeds corkscrewing.”

Johnson shared his observations during this interview with RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney. (Story continues after the interview.)

Ontario growers also observed corkscrewing corn in 2021. On this episode of RealAgriculture Corn School, Lambton County, Ont., agronomist Ryan Benjamins gets to the root of the problem.

In a corkscrewing situation, it’s the damage to the mesocotyl that’s the concern. The mesocotyl is the portion of the shoot, just above the seed that is the “coleoptile pusher” says Benjamins, and in corkscrewing, the mesocotyl starts curling and twisting underground.

Johnson believes the problem he’s seeing in fields can be avoided if growers practice just a little more patience. “When we start off with seed corn in a bag, we have unbelievable yield potential,” notes Johnson. “We’re just taking away some of that maximum yield potential by being maybe a day too early in a lot of those fields.”

Johnson also emphasizes that sharp agronomy skills really do contribute to a grower’s bottom line. He notes how Maizex agronomist Greg Stewart demonstrated the impact of optimizing plants stands and harvestable ears during the company’s 2021 Great Ontario Yield Tour. On this episode of The Sharp Edge, Stewart illustrates how growers can harvest an additional eight to 10 bushels if they can sharpen their agronomy skills.

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