Lack of rain in Illinois causing colorful corn fields

An Illinois-based agronomist says she’s seeing several different colors while scouting corn fields this spring.

Stephanie Porter tells Brownfield low humidity and cooler nighttime temperatures have caused some plants to look silver.

“We’re kind of getting this release of heat off of the ground and basically it does a type of burn on the leaf in some areas and makes it look silver, it almost looks like a cold injury.”

She says silver leaf symptoms are rare in Illinois because humidity levesl are usually high this time of year.

She says as temperatures rise the silver leaves are fading, but other plants are turning purple or striping, indicating a deficiency in key nutrients like phosphorus, sulfur and manganese.

“It’s not necessarily that the nutrients aren’t there. It’s just because the ground is dry and we need moisture for that plant to help take up some of those nutrients. We might be seeing a lot of nutrient deficiency symptoms as well, especially in corn.”

Thursday’s US Drought Monitor classifies 35% of the state as abnormally dry and 30% in moderate drought, mostly in central and northern counties. Porter says farmers with sandy soils in the western part of the state have started irrigating.

*Photo of silver leaf symptoms and striping on corn in a field in Clinton, Illinois provided by Stephanie Porter.

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