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Standing Strong- Stock Lodging Identification and Tips
Some corn fields are starting to come off, though most are two to four weeks away from harvest. For that reason, it is important to check potential for stalk lodging to assess which fields or hybrids may need to be prioritized to harvest first. There are two easy ways to test this, the push test and pinch test.
The Push Test: Place your hand above the ear and lean the corn stalk sideways until the top of the plant touches the neighboring corn row. As you release the plant, some will spring back to an upright position and others will stay leaned over. If 10 percent or more of the plants are weak, that means the field is at risk for lodging.
The Pinch Test: Pinch the stalk between your fingers 6”-12” above the ground. Weak stalks will feel hollow and easily collapse. Strong stalks will be very hard to pinch.
There are two types of lodging in the fall - stalk and root. That’s why I prefer the “Push Test,” which tests the roots and stalks. Roots are dead/dying as we move into the fall and diseases like red root rot may cause roots to do very little to anchor the plant.
Most of the lodging in the fall is a result of stalk lodging though, not roots. Some hybrids stand stronger than others after maturation, but the main culprit is stalk cannibalization. As the corn ear is filled, the plant may pull carbohydrates from the stalk in an effort to maximize grain fill. This leaves the stalks hollow and weak and prone to stalk rots to come in.
Remember to be safe this harvest season!