Adjust Your Harvest Plan to Address Stalk Rot

Many Latham sales managers, dealers and customers have shared their concerns about the excessive rainfall received. Most of Latham Country in the last few weeks have been wetter than normal.

Wet weather brings to mind diseases, and too often we see corn fields with some leaf and stalk quality issues late in the season. I’ve personally seen a lot of Common Rust, Northern Corn Leaf Blight, Gray Leaf Spot and Eyespot this year.

Even with harvest underway, it’s important to continue checking fields and assessing stalk integrity as weather conditions can cause crop conditions to change. Ideally, farmers harvest the driest fields first so crops can dry naturally. This obviously saves time and money, but those plans must be revised if stalk rot shows up.

There are two primary ways to check corn plants for stalk rot: (1) Pinch the stalk at the base of the plant, usually below the first and second nodes. If the stalk pinches easily between your fingers, stalk rot is likely. (2) Take the entire stalk and bend it to a 45-degree angle. If stalk rot is present, the plant usually breaks at the lower part. Do this with at least 10 plants from different areas of your field to provide a good sampling. If stalk rot is present, harvest that field as quickly as possible regardless of the moisture content. The yield that could potentially be lost during high winds or complete rot will far outweigh the extra cost of drying grain.

Weather will, of course, dictate how corn stalks hold up to disease and normal decay. Adjust your harvest plan if needed to harvest the worst first.

Stalk Rot