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Ohio State University Extension

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ANR Factsheet Available for Understanding Corn Abnormal Ears: When and Why Do They Develop?

Much of the corn has started to tassel (VT) and silk (R1) around the state (Figure 1). These mark the beginning of the reproductive stages and include the grain-filling period in corn. As ears develop and grow, abnormalities can develop at different times and due to various factors.

If you find abnormal ear development this season and want to understand development timing and causal factors, ANR-0139 Factsheet has the just of it: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/anr-0139

Figure 1. Corn growing with tassels and silks emerged in North Central Ohio on July 18th, 2023.

After over 100 years of corn research, situations still raise questions about its growth and development. Abnormal ears show distinctive cob, kernel, or husk leaf development disruptions. Many of these abnormalities decrease yield depending on the symptom, severity, and frequency at which they are found in the field. Abnormal ears include:

  • tassel ears
  • arrested ears
  • ears with cob curvatures
  • ears without viable or exposed silks
  • ears with unusual patterns of failed pollination or kernel abortion
  • plants with more than one ear on the same ear shank
  • ears with kernel skips along the cob
  • ears inadequately covered by husk leaves
  • And more!

For pictured symptoms and detailed information on timing and causes, visit:
Abnormal Ears in Corn—When and Why Do They Develop?

Crop Observation and Recommendation Network

C.O.R.N. Newsletter is a summary of crop observations, related information, and appropriate recommendations for Ohio crop producers and industry. C.O.R.N. Newsletter is produced by the Ohio State University Extension Agronomy Team, state specialists at The Ohio State University and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC). C.O.R.N. Newsletter questions are directed to Extension and OARDC state specialists and associates at Ohio State.

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