COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With over 30 percent of Ohio's corn crop still not yet harvested, some growers across the state may be facing significant lodging problems.
Peter Thomison, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist, said that lodging, whether it's stalk lodging or root lodging, can reduce quality and make it difficult to harvest corn, subsequently reducing yields.
"Growers should be monitoring their fields and earmarking those that are showing lodging problems for priority harvest," said Thomison, who also holds a partial research appointment with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. "Those are the fields that will likely suffer if these periods of wet weather continue."
Wet conditions during the past several weeks have kept growers out of their cornfields, delaying harvest. According to the Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service, 68 percent of the corn crop has been harvested, compared to 82 percent this time last year and 83 percent over the five-year average.
Lodging can become a significant problem the longer the crop stays in the field, and growers should be familiar with the two types of lodging they could be facing: stalk lodging and root lodging.
"Agronomists define stalk lodging as breakage of the stalk below the ear," said Thomison. "It impacts the plant from the standpoint of harvestability. The longer you leave the corn in the field, the broken stalks are going to get weaker and eventually may fall on the ground and won't be harvestable. Stalk lodging in some of our research plots this year has exceeded 50 percent."
The other type of lodging is root lodging, where the root system is compromised to the point that the plant leans 30 degrees or more, or can no longer stand up.
"As a result, combines may not be able to capture that corn or quality may have suffered due to the ears being exposed to molds or other diseases," said Thomison. "In situations of high moisture content, the kernels may sprout early. These are things we don't want to happen if we can avoid it."
Factors that may affect root lodging include: corn rootworm damage, corn genetics, winds and heavy storms, and compaction.
Despite potential lodging problems, the corn should be harvested fairly easily once conditions become favorable, said Thomison.