Evaluate fields periodically after pollination to check for stalk rot and lodging issues. Walk a zigzag pattern through the field and check 20 plants in five random locations. Healthy stalks are firm and cannot be compressed. If a stalk feels soft, it is likely prone to lodging.
The Push Test: push the stalk from above the ear and lean the corn stalk sideways until the top of the plant touches the neighboring corn row. When the stalk is released, some will spring back to an upright position and others will stay leaned over. Credit: University of Illinois Extension.
The Pinch Test: pinch stalks between the second and third node from the ground. Weak stalks will feel hollow and collapse easily, while strong stalks will be very hard to pinch. Credit: University of Nebraska Extension.
The push test helps determine the sturdiness of the corn stalk and simulates a wind event. Conduct a push test by pushing a stalk at a 45-degree angle, or until the tassel touches the tassel of the next row. If the stalk buckles, it could be compromised with a cannibalized stalk or stalk rot, and thus, the field should be a high priority for harvest.
For the pinch test, pinch stalks between the second and third node from the ground. Hollow stalks might make a popping sound as air within the stalk rind compresses. This test reveals the health of the plant. Fields with fragile stalks should be harvested sooner rather than later.
Your Channel Seedsman can help you evaluate plant health in your fields.