Corn root lodging can present numerous yield and harvest efficiency concerns. Any factor that inhibits root development, such as wet conditions at planting, compacted soils or nitrogen deficiency, raises the risk of root lodging. Drier than normal soil conditions immediately followed by storms can also slow brace root development.
Other factors that can result in root lodging include northern corn rootworm, wind and certain hybrid characteristics, such as plant height.
“In terms of yield implications, the number one factor is timing,” said Nate LeVan, Pioneer Field Agronomist in North Central Iowa. “The closer the lodging is to interfering with pollination and silk set, the more yield loss you could potentially have. If root lodging happens in the presence of rootworm, yield loss may be higher.”
Often, corn root lodging occurs in pockets throughout a field. While the entire field may not be affected, an area making up 20-25% of the field can have a large impact on yield. Growers should monitor root-lodged fields closely and consider timely harvesting at higher moistures if stalk rot development is an issue.
Depending on the severity of the root lodging, corn plants can typically recover by “goose necking” back upright; however, negative impacts can still occur throughout the remainder of the growing season