Sunday’s thunderstorms not only knocked down trees — and, in some areas outside Scott County, homes — but also frustrated gardeners by flattening rows of corn across the region.
High winds associated with the storms flattened corn in many gardens, most of which were of the residential variety. Commercial crops in larger fields — including those at Miller Farms in West Oneida, Scott County’s largest corn producer — were largely unharmed.
So, is the flattened corn a total loss? It depends, experts say.
Mark Licht, an agriculturist in corn-rich Iowa, told farmprogress.com that it depends on whether the corn has tasseled or is nearing the tasseling stage.
“The rule of thumb I follow is if the corn is more than 10 days from tasseling, lodged corn will ‘goose neck’ and grow upright at least enough to form reasonable rows,” Licht told the website. “But 10 days prior to tasseling the amount of corn that will gain vertical orientation again decreases. And if it’s after tasseling when the wind hits hard and the corn is flattened, then very little of the lodged corn will regain vertical orientation.”
Most gardeners in the northern Cumberland Plateau region plant their corn early enough that tasseling had already been achieved when the storms hit.
The good news for gardeners with small amounts of corn is that it isn’t impossible to stand the stalks upright and keep them there — with some help. Assuming the stalks have not been broken, some gardeners report success using bamboo stakes to help hold fallen corn upright.
Ag agents typically refer to corn that has simply bown over as root-lodged corn. Corn stalks that have broken are referred to as green-snap.
While it’s too late for gardeners to prevent wind damage to their corn stands this year, some gardeners have recommended tips to avoid a repeat situation in the future. Among them, throw dirt against the young stalks as they grow.
“Every time you throw more dirt on the stock it will form more roots just below the surface, which in turn will hold to the ground better in case of strong winds,” one gardener said. “By doing this, the soil will retain much more moisture deep down where the original roots formed and there will be less failure due to drought. With the extra roots the stock will also receive more soil nutrients which in turn will give you a better/bigger quality ear of corn.”