December 02, 2023

Tips for more resilient plants

WAUKEE, Iowa — Early droughts can have a lingering impact on corn plants, according to Pioneer agronomists.

Water availability is the most common yield-limiting factor in corn production, said Mark Jeschke, Pioneer agronomy manager.

In A Nutshell

• Corn is less susceptible to drought during vegetative growth than during pollination and grain fill, but severe early-season drought can significantly reduce yield.

• Drought stress during the vegetative stages can reduce corn plant size and leaf area and limit the number of kernels on the ear.

• Development of nodal roots and brace roots can be inhibited in dry soil.

Taking Action

Jeschke shared five proactive management practices growers can take to help make the crop more resilient to early-season drought stress.

1. Ensure adequate potassium fertility.

2. Reduce or eliminate spring tillage to help preserve soil moisture.

3. Avoid planting too shallow.

4. Ensure good seed-to-soil contact at planting.

5. Manage soils to improve structure and water-holding capacity and minimize compaction.

Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor