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Corn Stress Emergence


Corn Stress Emergence

In-Depth Downloads

What Controls Emergence?

  • Environment
  • Genetics
  • Seed Quality

Factors affecting corn emergence.

Why Corn is Sensitive to Early Season Stress

  • Corn is a warm-season crop – optimal temperature for emergence is 85-90 F – so it is almost always under some degree of cold stress.
  • Prolonged exposure to soil temperatures below 50 F promotes seed deterioration and seedling disease.

Modes of Damage in Cold, Wet Soils

  • Cold imbibition causes physical damage.
  • Extended cold delays emergence and further damages seeds.
  • Damaged seeds are likely to be attacked by insects and disease.
  • Surviving seedlings are likely to produce runts.

Imbibitional Chilling Injury

  • Cell membranes are brittle in the cold
  • Force of hydration causes membrane rupture
  • Leaked cell contents invite pathogens

Water temperature during initial contact is critical.

Most damage occurs during imbibition at less than 50 F.

Imbibitional chilling in corn.
Imbibitional chilling and cold injury (photo above and below). Note club and corkscrew shapes, and underground emergence in these 2 photos.
Cold injury in corn seedling.

Frost Damage

  • Frost damage can lead to runts and uneven stands.
  • Multiple events are more damaging than a single frost.
  • A healthy growing point does not guarantee a healthy stand.
  • Growth may be blocked by dead tissue.
  • Growing point needs a healthy coleoptile to push through soil.
Frost damage to corn seedling.

Flooding Damage

Flooding damage to corn seedling.
Flooding damage – note necrotic area of each root above root tip.

Pioneer Stress Emergence Scores

  • Genetic potential of hybrids to emerge under stressful environmental conditions (cold, wet soils or short periods of severe low temperatures).

Pioneer stress emergence scores.

Management Tips

  • Avoid planting ahead of a cold event
  • Plant into moisture
  • Plant well-drained, low-residue fields first
  • Use a residue manager
  • Use the right seed treatment
  • Choose the right hybrids
    • Stress Emergence
    • High Residue Suitability



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