The Case of the Missing Corn Plant(s)

For the most part, the corn crop is off to a slow start in the Northeast and beyond.   It is good to finally see fields with tidy rows of corn plants making the most of sunny days and warmer temperatures. At this time of year, it is not uncommon to get calls about missing corn plants. If you have missing plants or an uneven stand, investigating the matter sooner than later will increase the likelihood that you will find useful indicators of the cause of the problem. Several years ago I was attending a seminar and a corn farmer was giving a presentation having to do with certain practices on his farm.  One of the slides showed a nice picture of his corn field with the plants each about ten inches tall.  The farmer glanced at the slide, probably to remind himself of what he was supposed to say next.  Clearly off script, he did a double-take, half-crouched and pointed at a gap in the row of corn in the picture on the screen and said, “All I want to know is what happened to that corn plant!”  The inference was, ‘I paid about a 4/10 of a penny each for those seeds, a BUNCH of money for the equipment and field operations that were necessary to put it in the ground, and I was careful….it had better come up and keep growing!’ Photo by William Wiebold, Universit

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