Drought Tolerance in Corn
It’s been another exceptionally dry summer across many parts of the Corn Belt. While only rain can change fortunes at this point, planning for next year can help ensure fields are more resilient, says Pioneer Agronomy Manager, Dan Berning.
Berning… “Under moderate stress levels, we can see shorter plants or smaller leaves if it occurs during the vegetative growth stage. We may miss a few kernels during the pollination period. If it is at a grain fill timing, then we'll tend to see less kernel depth. Under severe drought stress, we can really begin to see the plant tissues of the leaves scald or flash. We can also frequently see some nutrient deficiencies like nitrogen or potassium that are related to the inability of the plant to pull up enough moisture through the roots and bring those nutrients with it. Under severe stress we’ll even see premature death.”
Berning shares a few tips on what farmers can do to improve drought tolerance in their corn.
Berning… “Those tactics are going to include things like preserving soil moisture with tillage and residue management considerations that strive to keep that soil moisture preserved as best we can. Good soil fertility and crop nutrient management, especially potassium, can have an impact on how well that plant can deal with drought stress. And then obviously we want to do everything we can to relieve other stresses and protect that plant from things like diseases or insects or weed competition that could impose additional stresses to the crop.”
He added that hybrid selection is another critical consideration.