Imbibitional Chilling Damage Affects Northeast Iowa

In this week’s crop report Nick Benson, Latham’s regional sales manager in northeast Iowa, reported a 20-25% stand reduction in his area due to imbibitional chilling damage.  The damage resulted in what he called some very confused seedlings that were either emerging incorrectly or not emerging at all. We wanted to provide a little bit more information on just what imbibitional chilling is and how it affects seedlings.

Imbibitional chilling damage is the chilling effect seeds may experience when they imbibe, or absorb, water when soil  temperatures are less than 55° F for an extended period of time. The seedlings may “corkscrew” or not emerge when exposed to these coil soil temperatures (see photo). This may happen also when there are rapid swings in air temperatures, of nearly 30° F.

Nick said he has seen results of imbibitional chilling in corn that had been planted April 28-30. Those growers who saw the 20-25% stand reduction decided not to replant simply due to the lateness of the season – another reminder that farmers are at the liberty of the elements.

If you have any questions about imbititional chilling damage, feel free to comment in the field below.