Drought and stalk rot causing top dieback in Midwestern corn fields

A Midwest agronomist says he is seeing a fair amount of top dieback in corn this season.

Dana Harder with Burrus Seed tells Brownfield there are a couple of factors that could be causing corn to dry from the top down instead of the bottom up.

“If you see it broad throughout the field, chances are that’s due to drought stress. If it’s anthracnose stalk rot, those plants are going to be more randomly scattered throughout that field.”

He says within the Burrus footprint he’s seen the biggest impacts in eastern Missouri and west central Illinois.

Harder recommends doing a push or pinch test in fields with top dieback.

“Bend that stalk out to a 30-to-45-degree angle, and if it snaps or breaks there, we should prioritize that for early harvest. We need to be going after that field and make sure that we get it out early so we don’t have any downed corn when we’re combining.”

He says drought and disease pressure has also caused some top dieback in soybeans.

Photo provided by Dana Harder

Audio: Interview with Dana Harder

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