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Reduce stress and forget the rest

How corn growers can take the stress out of hot and dry weather

From planting to harvest, growing acres of corn can be taxing when considering all the unpredictable factors. Heading into the growing season, one unknown factor is weather. It would be wonderful to have a crystal ball predicting how much rain a region will receive, but Mother Nature is fickle.


Drought and heat are at the top of the list when it comes to unpredictable environmental factors that “stress corn out.” Even worse, these two factors typically occur at the same time and can have an impact on yield.


When corn is exposed to dry weather and soil conditions, such as too much sunlight but not enough water, photosynthesis is reduced. With the reduction of photosynthesis, energy production and yield potential are negatively impacted.


As temperatures start to warm up this season, here’s some information corn growers should know about heat and drought stress:


Transpiration’s impact


Transpiration is the process of pulling water from roots to small pores on the underside of leaves, called stomata, where it evaporates into the atmosphere. This process is also responsible for orchestrating photosynthesis and cooling leaves when the weather is hot. When conditions are hot and dry, transpiration is increased and the stomata remain open, allowing plants to stay cooler. However, with increased temperatures, the plants will use more soil moisture. If soils begin to dry out, the stomata begin to close, water intake reduces and internal plant temperature increases.


Under heat and drought stress, with stomata closed and transpiration reduced, leaves will begin to wilt, and if conditions persist, plant leaves can begin to senesce (age prematurely), negatively affecting photosynthesis and yield.  


How fungicides can help


Growers can protect their corn against the negative impacts of drought and heat stress by making a proactive fungicide application.


In addition to disease control, applications of fungicides, such as Headline AMP® fungicide, have been shown to keep stomata open longer versus untreated plants. The fungicide application increases the opportunity for photosynthesis and can allow for improved gas exchange during periods of heat and drought. Keeping stomata open during prolonged dry conditions is important to maintain transpiration and photosynthesis while protecting yield potential.


Experience shows that hot and dry temperatures can decrease corn yield. However, with proactive fungicide management, growers can combat what Mother Nature throws their way.


Always read and follow label directions.


Headline AMP is a registered trademark of BASF.