Storms damage Arkansas corn crops


LITTLE ROCK — Storms, rain and high winds that rolled through Arkansas in recent days damaged parts of the state’s corn crop in a couple of ways. One is “greensnap,” which happens when the corn stalk snaps at a node due to high winds. The other problem is when corn plants blow over but don’t snap.

Blown-over plants are probably the result of roots giving way in wet ground and can often straighten up with minimal impact on yield, said Jason Kelley, wheat and feed grains extension agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “The smaller the plants are, the better they will straighten up,” Kelley said.

Greensnap most often occurs when plants have been rapidly growing and the stalks are brittle. Arkansas cornfields have experienced good growing conditions and high fertility levels, both of which can increase greensnap problems. Assuming a north wind was blowing, fields planted east and west typically have more damage than north-south fields.

“Some fields in northeast Arkansas in isolated areas have been reported to have 75 percent or more greensnap damage,” Kelley said.

Most of the plants affected by greensnap from this storm appear to be within a couple of weeks of tasseling.

“Plants at this stage have little ability to compensate since the maximum number of kernels has already been set,” Kelley said. “There may still be a small amount of compensating that a plant can do, but it is not nearly as great as if the damage had occurred earlier in the season. Yield loss associated with greensnap is nearly directly proportional to the percentage of plants that broke.”

Kelley said there is no good solution for fields that have sustained heavy greensnap damage and suggested that insurance covering such damage is the best-case scenario. “Fields not covered by insurance become more difficult to deal with since replanting corn or grain sorghum this late in the season is not going to provide optimum yields,” he explained. “If replanting of any sort is done, corn stalk shredding would likely have to be done to be able to plant another crop.”

The best option in many fields with moderate greensnap would be to keep the corn crop because a reduced yield due to greensnap may be as good or better than replanted corn or a late grain sorghum crop since nearly all the expenses are already into the corn crop, Kelley added.