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Agronomic Crops Network

Ohio State University Extension


ANR Factsheet: A Guide to Corn Growth and Development

One of the critical activities in growing a crop is understanding and keeping track of its growth and development. Corn growth is related to the increase in size of an individual plant or plant component. On the other hand, corn development relates to the plant’s progress in stages of maturity (e.g., moving from earlier to later stages). In corn, vegetative development ends when reproductive development begins (Figure 1).

Corn at Vegetative and reproductive phases

Figure 1. Corn at vegetative and reproductive phases during the growing season.

Yield formation is determined by three main components: plant/ear number per unit of area (early in the season), kernel number per ear (kernel rows per ear and kernels per row, mid-season), and kernel weight (late in the season). From planting to physiological maturity, plant structures initiate and grow; adverse conditions like flood, drought, heat, weed competition, nutrient deficiencies, and off-label applications during the crop cycle can negatively impact plants, their components, yield, and farm profits.

An adequate understanding of corn’s growth and development is essential when planning crop management decisions and diagnosing yield-limiting factors in corn. For a detailed and complete description of how a corn plant grows and develops, access the following resource:

A Guide to Corn Growth and Development


Authors Osler Ortez, Mark Licht 

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.