Corn Ears Tell a Story

by Greg LaBarge, Fulton County

The shape of a corn ear can tell a story about the growing season and help identify how some practices worked and identify things we may want to change in a future year. Dr Peter Thomison, OSU Extension Corn Specialist has put together a great resources on ear shape and what may have lead to what you are seeing in the field. The poster on corn ear shapes can be downloaded at http://agcrops.osu.edu/specialists/corn/specialist-announcements/AbnormalCornEarsPoster_000.pdf/at_download/file

Western Bean Cutworm Damaged Ears. Ear to the left was harvested in the late milk stage and the three ears to the left are full maturity.

One thing you may want to keep an eye out for is damage from Western Bean Cutworm. We saw increased moth flights and identified several fields with egg and small larvae. A couple of field showed ear damage. A picture is included in the poster as well as the damage in the accompanying photo from 2010 show what this type of misshapen ear looks like.

Are all the ears filled to the end? This looks great and feels good but the questions to ask in this situation is could I have increased yield by increasing population. There are several questions to ask this time of year as we harvest to make plans to improve next years crop. The Abnormal ear poster is a great tool.

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