abnormalities in corn ears originate from environmental conditions such ksre.ksu/bookstore/pubs/S54.pdf. Purdue University.

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Abnormal Corn Ears Abnormalities in corn ears affect corn yield and quality. In most cases, abnormalities in corn ears originate from environmental conditions such as heat, drought, nutrient deficiencies, insects, and diseases, or through the misapplication of chemicals. Often, not much can be done to correct these issues, but proper diagnostics can prevent future issues. Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service

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Over the last decade, several factors have been identified as being responsible for these ear abnormalities. The answer for each specific situation is yet to be determined. This document provides guidance regarding the potential causes for these issues and how to identify the abnormalities. Potential factors affecting ear development Some of the factors described by previous studies are: 1.Application of herbicides !some weeks before flowering “,2.Application of fungicides,3.Environmental conditions around silking time !heat, drought, and nutrient deficiencies, among several other factors “,4.Insect damage in exposed ears, 5.Disease pressure, and 6.Hail damage, flooding, or other miscellaneous biotic or abiotic factors. If the problem is associated with the weather, there is not much farmers can do to fix the problem. The environment influences ear development well before the silking period !R1 stage, flowering “. In corn plants, the ear shoot is initiated by about V5 or V6 !five or six leaf stages “, and final row and kernel numbers, two main critical components for corn yield, are ultimately determined when the potential number of kernels is finalized by around V15 !around 2 weeks before silking, depending on the environment, hybrid, and management practices “. Final ear size is a critical component in the determination of the final number of kernels in corn plants. These factors can be influenced by the environmental conditions from the V5 to V15 vegetative growth stages. iiIntroduction to Abnormal Corn Ears

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This symptom is associated with an unknown problem that occurs before the silking stage. Silk development is interrupted; thus ovules are not receptive for pollination and kernels do not form. The main causes related to this issue are unknown but can be associated with a condition that took place before flowering, around V10 # V15. The response differs among hybrids. 3Section 1Arrested Ears Arrested corn ear at physiological maturity stage !end of the growing season “. The ear is not presenting kernels due to a problem during the pollination process, silk development was impaired and ovules were not receptive. Illustration 1 Examples of arrested ears.

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Banana# shaped ears develop when entire or partial kernel rows are aborted. The ears bend, taking the shape of a banana because of an uneven kernel number on the different sides of the ears. The causes are not clearly known, but could be associated with severe weather, herbicide misapplication, heat and drought stresses, and conditions before or at pollination. 4Section 2Banana# shaped EarsIn these pictures, the abnormality was related to several causes: abiotic stresses !drought and heat” around pollination and misapplication of a herbicide.Illustration 2 Examples of banana# shaped ears.

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This condition is characterized by the presence of several ears !on the same node of the plant. The causes are not yet clearly identified, but can be related to heat stress during the early !ear formation and development !V5# V15 growth stages “, and !pre# silking misapplication of herbicides, fungicides, or insecticides. A solution is to avoid misapplications of herbicides, fungicides, or insecticides during the late # vegetative period for corn !V10 $ VT”. Some genotypes are more sensitive than others. A hypothesis previously suggested by Roger Elmore and Lori Abendroth !Iowa State University ” is that the apical dominance of the main ear is lost, allowing the presence of multiple ears on the same node.5Section 3Bouquet Ears Bouquet or multiple corn ears in the same ear shank. Kernels within the ears fail to develop due to the asynchrony between pollen shed and silking. Illustration 3 Example of bouquet ears.

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Ear stunting is also referred as Òbeer can earsÓ or Òblunt ear syndrome.Ó Ear size is abnormally limited, which offers a physical restriction for the final number of kernels, affecting primarily the total number of kernels per row. The occurrence of this abnormality may be related to the misapplication of chemicals, but the primary cause is still unknown. Ear size is defined before flowering, so any stress !biotic or abiotic” conditions affecting the crop during the mid # to late # vegetative stages could influence the size of the ear. 7Section 5Ear StuntingEar stunting is characterized by a smaller than ÒnormalÓ corn ear. The final number of kernels per row is more affected than the number of rows per ear, which can be the same as a normal ear. Illustration 5 Examples of ear stunting.

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Exposed ears occur when the ear keeps elongating beyond the end of the husks. When this happens, the upper part of the ear is partially or completely exposed, which makes the ear more susceptible to any biotic or abiotic stresses !weather and pests in general”. The cause of this, as suggested by Robert Nielsen, Purdue University, seems to be primarily related to the weather before or at pollination !heat and/or drought stresses” combined with a reprieve of those conditions after flowering. The combination of heat and drought early this season, followed by an unusually cool and wet pattern, has been the cause of exposed ears in Kansas. 8Section 6Exposed EarsExposed corn ears !pictures taken sometime after silking stage “. Characterized when the ear keeps elongating beyond the husks. This phenomenon makes the ear more susceptible to any biotic !e.g. diseases and insects ” or abiotic stresses !heat and drought”.Illustration 6 Examples of exposed ears.

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Ears with kernel red streak have red pigment present in the kernels close to the tip section of the ear. This symptom appears when the wheat curl mite !Aceria tulipae ” secretes Òsalivary phytotoxinsÓ during the feeding process. This specific mite is a pest for wheat and carries wheat streak mosaic virus. As related to management practices, some corn genotypes tend to be more susceptible than others. In this particular case, the streaking does not affect the nutritional value of the corn. The discoloration can reduce the price obtained when the corn is sold for specific uses !e.g. food#grade corn “.9Section 7Kernel Red Streak Kernel red streak in corn !taken sometime after silking stage ” is usually located on the kernels close to the tip of the ear. The main cause of this phenomenon is the toxin secreted in the feeding process of the wheat curl mite !Aceria tulipae “.Illustration 7 Examples of kernel red streak.

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Poor kernel set relates to a lack of pollination, fertilization failures, or abortion after the ovules are fertilized, among other factors. The degree of severity ranges from just a few missing kernels to an ear showing mostly the cob with just a few kernels visible. Poor pollination or fertilization failure !due to pollen tube failure, desiccated and nonfunctional silks, nonviable pollen ” can be primarily related to warm temperatures and insufficient water supply during flowering. Other factors also can cause a similar pattern in corn ears, such as herbicides, nutrient deficiency !nitrogen and phosphorus “, and insect feeding. Any biotic or abiotic factor that affects pollen shed or silk development and extrusion from the husks will interfere with the timing of pollen shed and silk development, which will cause fertilization problems and affect kernel set. 10Section 8Poor Kernel Set Poor or incomplete kernel set can be related to several factors, including warm temperatures, insufficient water supply, lack of complete pollination, and asynchrony between pollen shed and the silking process. Illustration 8 Examples of poor kernel set.

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