Ask the Agronomist: Rapid Growth Syndrome

Thanks for tuning into Week Nine of our “Ask the Agronomist” Audiocasts. Guest Agronomist and Latham Hi-Tech Seeds Regional Sales Manager for Eastern Iowa, Jerry Broders will be filling in for Latham’s Senior Agronomist, Mark Grundmeier. To listen to Jerry’s response to this week’s question about rapid growth syndrome, play the audio file below.


Corn is growing as fast as wildfire spreads across dry ground thanks to the heat and humidity we experienced in June. Now we’re seeing signs of that rapid growth. Rapid Growth Syndrome, as it’s commonly called, is when corn plants grow so fast that the whorl inside of the plant is wrapped tightly. As a result, leaves have a hard time coming out and are yellow when unfurl. Those newly emerged leaves will turn green once they’ve received sunlight.

Q: Are there lasting effects with Rapid Growth Syndrome?

A: There shouldn’t be any lasting effects from Rapid Growth Syndrome. About 99% of the fields with Growth Syndrome eventually release their leaves. Because Growth Syndrome is more of a cosmetic issue, it doesn’t affect yield as much. A minority of plants will remain “buggy-whipped.” However, the plant will still have the silk shoot that will get pollinated.

Q: Not all of the fields are experiencing Rapid Growth Syndrome, why is that?

A: Not all hybrids are experiencing Rapid Growth Syndrome due to differences in genetics, adaptability and planting date. Especially this spring, there was a wide range in planting dates. Fields that got planted during the May 6-9 window would have been better served if the planter had been left in the shed. The cold weather experienced afterwards caused uneven stand emergence. Plus, there was a cold rain that made it difficult for soybeans to emerge through cold soil.

Q: Does rapid growth syndrome occur in soybeans?

A: It does occur in soybeans, but there is a difference in how it’s expressed. Development is quickened, and I’ve even seen plots where the plants are beginning to flower. It’s only late June and those plants are already in the reproductive phase!

If you have a question about what you’re seeing in the fields, feel free to ask! Send your questions via Twitter to @LathamSeeds, in a private message on Facebook or call our office at 1-877-GO-LATHAM (1.877.465.2842).

Also be sure to check out for timely agronomic information. Crop reports from specific areas across Latham’s six-state marketing area are published every Wednesday during the growing season by Latham’s regional sales managers in each of those locations. New articles are posted each week day on our blog as well.  You can even search for “topics” by simply typing key words into the search bar on the upper right-hand corner.

Thanks for tuning in to this week’s Ask the Agronomist with Jerry Broders. Mark Grundmeier will be back next week to field all of your questions during #grow16.