Fixing Knocked Over Corn: What To Do When Corn Is Bent Over

Fixing Knocked Over Corn: What To Do When Corn Is Bent Over

By: Amy Grant

Summer storms can wreak havoc in the home garden. While the rain accompanying the storm is welcome, too much of a good thing can batter foliage, sometimes irreversibly. Tall stands of corn are particularly susceptible to heavy rain, not to mention the almost synonymous winds, leaving one to wonder how to save knocked over corn. Can you restore bent corn plants?

Can I Restore Bent Corn Plants?

If rain or wind blew corn over, fixing the knocked over corn may be a question of how severely the plants are damaged. Often the corn is bent over at a 45-degree angle at the very least, sometimes it has been battered down to the ground.

When the corn stalks are mildly bent over, they may just rebound themselves given a bit of time. Maybe you need to mound a bit of dirt around the base to aid in straightening them up. In more severe cases, you may need to stake the stalks when fixing the knocked over corn.

How to Save Knocked Over Corn

You should primarily be concerned with corn that has been blown over if fertilization has not been completed. Leaning stalks will prevent the pollen from drifting down the tassels to the silks, thwarting pollination. If this is the case, the stalks should be straightened.

If the wind blew corn over rather spectacularly, the roots of the corn may be pulled from the soil. When root systems lose half their contact with the soil, the term “root lodging” is used. Plants that are root lodged can often regenerate new roots and orient upright on their own, hopefully before pollination.

Corn plants usually get bent stems after severe wind or rain after pollination when the stalks are stronger, and yet carrying the weight of ears of corn. Straighten the plants and stake them with bamboo poles and plastic wire ties, then keep your fingers crossed. If two people are available, sometimes you can get a line on either end of a row and pull an entire row up. Tamp down around the roots or water at the base of the plants to push any loose soil around the roots and fill any air pockets near them.

Most of the time, corn stalks will straighten themselves out within a week, especially if they have yet to tassel and aren’t too heavy. Even so, if the ears are near maturity, leave the plants alone since they are almost ready to harvest anyway. Depending upon the severity of damage, sometimes helping the corn out by trying to straighten it does more harm than good. You may end up breaking or bending the stems even worse.

Large commercial corn fields tend to have less damage due to the density of the plantings. The home gardener’s relatively small plot tends to get the brunt. If your region is prone to these sudden storms, a good idea is to bury the stem of the corn in a deep layer of compost. This will not only give excellent nutrition to the roots, but aid in supporting the stalk in general.

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Can I Restore Bent Corn Plants - How To Save Knocked Over Corn - garden

I live in the state of Pennsylvania and the other day we had some pretty strong winds that knocked down some newly planted seedlings of corn. They are about 6 inches high (when standing). My question is will they stand back up or do I need to hurry up and plant more?

Re: New Gardner Question

They won't stand themselves back up, but you can stand them up. Stand them up and pack/ hill up dirt around the roots to hold them until they get rooted in a bit better and they should be fine.

A common occurrence, since corn is tall and shallow rooted.

Re: Wind Pushed Down Corn - Will it Recover or Plant More?

Re: Wind Pushed Down Corn - Will it Recover or Plant More?

Re: Wind Pushed Down Corn - Will it Recover or Plant More?

Re: Wind Pushed Down Corn - Will it Recover or Plant More?

Re: Wind Pushed Down Corn - Will it Recover or Plant More?

Re: Wind Pushed Down Corn - Will it Recover or Plant More?

Re: Wind Pushed Down Corn - Will it Recover or Plant More?

When they're little, they should recover.

Re: Wind Pushed Down Corn - Will it Recover or Plant More?

last year i actually planted my seeds in a gully sort of, i raked the dirt onto my walkways between my corn so throughout the season i could easily rake more dirt onto my stalks to hill up my corn as needed, this way worked alot easier for me, i will do the same this growing season.

100 corn stalks isnt alot, this can easily be done in a evening or whenever, just think of the harvest, this is minor work for what good things you receive in the end.

Just prepare so next time you get another strong wind storm your ready to stand them back up, once they get tall, if you have your corn fenced in, in which you should you can run string between the corn stalks to prevent them from falling over.. Their is many ways to protect your corn and once my corn comes up i protect it with my life


What to do with downed corn?

After a “massive windstorm” hammered property and cropland across the Corn Belt, farmers will be watching their fields anxiously as an already deteriorating corn crop struggles into pollination.

The storm reached near-historic proportions in some areas. “The National Weather Service in Des Moines is calling the wind event ‘the most widespread and damaging one to affect central and east central Iowa since 1998’ and estimated winds from the storm at anywhere from 80 to 110 miles per hour,” Freese-Notis Weather reported on Tuesday.

Jim Fawcett, Iowa State University Extension agronomist, wrote: "There is likely over 100,000 acres of corn [in Iowa] that is flattened, in addition to thousands of trees snapped off, grain bins blown over, and farm buildings destroyed."

On Twitter, Brian Corkill, a Henry County, Illinois, farmer reported from his travels west: “Some of the worst down corn I have ever seen [is] from State Center, Iowa, east 10 miles along US Highway 30.”

He added, “It is sickening just before pollination.”

Karen Corrigan, an independent agronomist based in central Illinois, reported that farmers around the Midwest today are asking “lots of questions on what to do with down/flat corn.”

“There is a fair amount of downed corn in eastern Iowa, northwest Illinois, then across northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, mostly north of I-80,” she said. “Seems like about 20% is flat from those I've talked to.”

Corrigan offers several management tips for farmers dealing with down corn:

  • Look for signs of recovery. The downed corn in many areas has somewhat straightened overnight.
  • Fungicides on this recovered corn will help to fend off rot on the damaged stalks.
  • Wait until 80% silking before spraying fungicides. Fields are uneven in their growth and you do not want to chance ear deformation with too early of an application.
  • Do not spray fungicides this week. Most fields in these areas are within a week of tasseling or just beginning tassel. This is the absolute most risky time to spray fungicides due to potential ear deformation.
  • Fields that are flat and do not show good signs of recovery within the next week may be lost. Stalks may be broken or kinked disrupting plant growth. Pollination can also be minimal if silks are covered with leaves. Carefully assess the field and its chances before spending money.

Jim Doolittle, an agronomist in southeastern Wisconsin, surveyed his area and walked damaged fields with a customer this morning, finding some green snap and leaning corn, but not “anything that is completely flat.”

He told Agriculture.com that in his area there’s “not much we can do about downed corn right now. It is what it is.”

He recommends, though, that you “walk fields with your seed advisor and take notes on what held up the best for hybrid selection next year.

“I would still recommend fungicide at tassel, even (perhaps especially) with a reduced stand,” he said. “Very critical on corn on corn, with the heat and humidity.”

Alison Robertson, an Iowa State University plant pathologist, recommends a conservative approach to fungicide use. "I'm a little hesitant about spraying a crop that has already lost ten to twenty percent of its yield," she says. "I'm skeptical that a fungicide would recover that yield loss."

Robertson also worries about whether fungicides can help prevent rot on damaged corn at this point in the season. "Infection by stalk rot fungi can occur earlier in the season and thus corn may already be infected with stock rot pathogens that no fungicide application will be directly effective against," she says.


Q. Yellow Corn

How do you prevent ants from attacking yellow corn once the stalk has bloomed?

Generally, when you see ants on plants, they are not attacking the plant but rather feeding off aphids (which are attacking the plants). Inspect for aphids. If you get rid of the aphids, the ants will go as well. This article will help: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/pests/homemade-aphid-control-a-natural-way-to-kill-aphids.htm

If you do not see aphids, you can try diatomaceous earth or uncooked grits around the base of the corn. They both will help to kill the ants.


Will Blown-Down Corn Recover?

Storms packing tremendous wind rolled through central Iowa and into east central Iowa in the early morning hours of July 11, causing a lot of destruction. Damage includes quite a few corn fields flattened, a number of empty grain bins and machine sheds blown into nearby fields, grain elevator legs knocked down, electric utility poles toppled, power lines down, roofs of houses ripped off and windows blown out.

"With that tremendous wind comes damage to a very good looking 2011 corn crop in these areas," observes Mark Licht, an Iowa State University Extension field agronomist who covers central and west central Iowa.

The wind damage to corn started north of Woodward and moved east through Slater, Huxley, State Center, Marshalltown and on eastward. "I've heard reports the damage was 8 miles wide in several areas. From what I've seen at this early stage is mostly lodged corn, and some of it is blown over so badly that it's either laying on the ground or is within a foot of the ground. I've also seen fields with some slight green snap."

Jim Fawcett, another ISU Extension crop specialist, covers east central Iowa and he says a number of corn fields have been damaged there, too. Soybeans are growing lower to the ground so they didn't suffer much damage if any. It's mostly corn that we're concerned about, says Fawcett.

When did winds hit? How close was corn to tasseling?

Will corn that's been blown down that bad grow upright again? From here on it is mostly a waiting game to see if the corn does straighten itself up, at least somewhat, as it continues growing.

"Most of this corn is between 3 and 7 days from tasseling and in some fields the first tassels became visible this past weekend," says Licht. "The rule of thumb I follow is if the corn is more than 10 days from tasseling, lodged corn will 'goose neck' and grow upright at least enough to form reasonable rows. But 10 days prior to tasseling the amount of corn that will gain vertical orientation again decreases. And if it's after tasseling when the wind hits hard and the corn is flattened, then very little of the lodged corn will regain vertical orientation."

How much yield loss is associated with lodged corn?

One question Licht always gets is how much yield loss can be associated with lodging? There is very little data available but he has no doubt that some yield loss will occur compared to unaffected fields. The straighter the corn stand, the better the odds of having better yields.

If there was green snap, the rule of thumb is 1% yield loss for each 1% of stand loss. This is not completely true, he says, since neighboring plants can compensate with increased grain fill, but 1% yield loss per 1% stand loss is an easy rule to follow.

"True crop damage from a ferocious storm like this one will take several weeks to assess the amount of yield loss," he notes. "But some beginning assessments can be made in about three to five days."

Several weeks before you can assess amount of yield loss

Fawcett says the straight-line winds that struck around 3 a.m. on Monday July 11 laid corn down from Story County in central Iowa along U.S. Highway 30 to Cedar Rapids. Strong winds of near 100 mph hit many fields in Marshall County, Tama County and western Benton County. He looked at corn damage on Monday after the storm in eastern Jones County.

"So this storm stretched from northern Polk County, towards Cedar Rapids and then on toward Dubuque," notes Fawcett. Some corn fields suffered more wind damage than others. "The damage is spotty, it's worse in some fields than others depending on row direction, wind direction and wind speed. Also, soil moisture, stage of corn development and hybrid make a difference."

What should a farmer look for when evaluating wind damage to corn? First, check to see if it's just root-lodging or if it is green snap, says Fawcett. Green snap is worse, of course. At this stage of the game once the corn stalk has snapped off, it's done. However, if the corn is leaning over badly with root lodging, the corn plants will grow to upright themselves, at least up-righting the upper half of the plant. That will greatly improve the ability to pollinate the crop.

Contact your crop insurance agent if you've had damage

Should you contact your crop insurance agent? "The main thing is whether or not you have greensnap or whether the corn is just leaning over," says Fawcett. "Particularly if you've got a lot of greensnap, get hold of your insurance agent. But if the majority of the corn is just leaning, that's much better news. It should grow and straighten out in another week or two and look a lot better."


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