I drove by a cornfield a few days ago and it looked more like a field of pineapples with all the pointed leaves. Why does the corn look like that?
Corn, like us, needs water to grow and maintain itself. Water moves from the soil through the plant into the atmosphere through a phenomenon called transpiration. Corn requires the greatest amounts of water from the late vegetative stages through the blister stage. In simpler terms, the greatest transpiration is when the corn has the most rapid growth. So now that we know why transpiration is important in corn production, why do the leaves look rolled and pineapple-like? Transpiration increases as leaf area increases so the corn plant is trying to conserve its water supplies by reducing the surface area of its leaves. The downside of this is reduced availability, uptake, and transport of nutrients during this time. This results in the potential yield loss of the crop. Another factor that plays a part in transpiration is the corn roots. With a wet spring and early summer, many fields were planted in wetter than normal conditions, resulting in shorter root structures than normal because of the abundance of moisture. Now in the latter part of the summer with less moisture available and short roots, corn plants are having a harder time getting the moisture they need. This article by Iowa State goes into great depth about the whole process!
Question answered by Jake Ledoux, Dairy and Livestock Educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County. Contact him at 315-788-8450 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last updated August 15, 2019