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Hybrid Growth: How Fast Is Too Fast?

June 21, 2018
This agronomic image shows a corn field.

With warm weather comes hybrid growth. But how fast is too fast for plant growth? Scout for signs of rapid growth syndrome in corn fields as the weather transitions.

What are the causes of rapid growth syndrome?

Rapid growth syndrome is generally associated with an abrupt transition from cool to warmer conditions resulting in a sharp acceleration in plant growth rate.

During rapid growth, corn leaves fail to unfurl properly and the whorl becomes tightly wrapped and twisted. The rapidly growing new leaves are unable to emerge and will cause the whorl to bend and twist as they try to force their way out.

How do you spot rapid growth syndrome?

Leaves that have been trapped in the whorl will often be yellow when they emerge, making them very noticeable in the field.

What are the long-term effects?

  • Leaves of affected corn plants usually unfurl after a few days
  • Newly emerged leaves will often be yellow but will green up quickly once exposed to sunlight
  • Leaves may be wrinkled near the base and will remain that way throughout the growing season
  • According to the University of Nebraska Extension, rapid growth syndrome may cause the development of individual plants to be slightly delayed, but yield is unlikely to be impacted

Rapid Growth Syndrome Facts:

  • Rapid growth syndrome most commonly occurs at the V5-V6 growth stage, but can be observed as late as V12
  • As with many weather-related stress effects, it is common for some hybrids to be more prone to rapid growth syndrome than others
  • Twisted whorls can also have other causes, most notably herbicide injury. Growth regulators herbicides are most commonly associated with twisted whorls or “buggy-whipping”

If you suspect Rapid Growth Syndrome of impacting your fields, speak with your NK® retailer for management recommendations.

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