Extension Ag Update
March/April 2007
Articles Research Resources Internet Links Ag Facts Education

Identifying Corn Emergence Problems

Modified from Ohio State University, Candace Pollock, pollock.58@ag.osu.edu,614) 292-3799, and Pierce Paul, OARDC ,Ohio State University Extension, paul.661@osu.edu,(330) 263-3842

Corn growers are encouraged to scout their newly planted corn fields for any emergence problems as a way of quickly identifying solutions and developing successful replant plans, if warranted. Corn can take up to four weeks to emerge when soil conditions are not optimal. In most cases, delayed emergence has no negative impacts on corn yields, as long as stands are not greatly reduced. The following table outlines reasons corn may not emerge uniformly.

Identifying Corn Emergence Problems

Found when scouting corn

Potential problems include:

No seed present

May be due to mechanical malfunction or bird or rodent damage.

Plant shoot unfurled and leafing underground.

Unfavorable weather conditions, premature exposure to light in cloddy soil, planting too deep, soil compaction, or extended exposure to herbicides under cool, wet conditions could all be contributing factors.

Poorly developed shoots with brown or yellow tips. You want a nice, creamy white root system.

Seed rot or seed with low vigor may be to blame. Seeds and seedlings that are brown in color, are soft and fall apart easily while digging are obviously dead or dying. Seeds and seedling roots or shoots that have a weft of white to pinkish mold growing on them are likely victims of fungal attack and will likely die.

Seed has swelled but not sprouted

Most often caused by poor seed-to-soil contact or shallow planting.

Skips associated with discolored and malformed seedlings

Herbicide damage could be the cause.

Hollow seeds

The condition could be a sign of seed corn maggot or wireworm.

Uneven emergence

Contributing factors include poor seed-to-soil contact, soil crusting, and soil moisture and temperature variability.