Check Your Stalk Strength

Depending on your location, you may have experienced great or less than desired growing conditions. Great growing conditions can also be associated with plentiful rain and high humidity, conditions that favor many foliar leaf diseases which can lead to stalk rot (Figure 1). High temperatures and abnormally dry weather can also cause poor stalk strength.  

A reduction in stalk strength can come from a lack of nutrient uptake by the roots which can lead to an increased chance of stalk rot developing. The lack of nutrient uptake is not usually from a lack of fertility, but more commonly due to the nutrient not being available in the soil solution. If the nutrient is in solution, as it would be with ample moisture, the plant should absorb the nutrient reducing the potential for stalk rot development. However, stalk pith is often infested with various stalk rots. These rots proceed up the plant from the crown, similarly to how nutrients move from the source to the sink in the plant (up the stalk and to the ear and from the leaves to the ear during grain fill).  


From experience, it can be assumed that in high stressed conditions late-season stalk strength may be compromised. Knowing this well in advance of harvest can allow the Channel Seedsman you partner with to help you develop a harvest plan. Developing the plan often involves a careful inspection of individual fields coupled with an analysis of the overall plant health rating of the product. Knowing overall field and plant health can help lead to a more enjoyable harvest. Consequences of failing to do so often result in slower harvests, reduction in yield potential, and frustration. Fungicide applications do have the ability to prolong plant health but are not a substitute for knowing the stalk strength in the field.

Figure 1: Anthracnose stalk rot beginning to develop at R2 growth stage. Figure 1: Anthracnose stalk rot beginning to develop at R2 growth stage.

Daniel Lundeen

Technical Agronomist

Legal Statement

ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Performance may vary, from location to location and from year to year, as local growing, soil and weather conditions may vary. Growers should evaluate data from multiple locations and years whenever possible and should consider the impacts of these conditions on the grower’s fields. Channel® and the Arrow Design® and Seedsmanship At Work® are registered trademarks of Channel Bio, LLC. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. ©2021 Bayer Group. All rights reserved.

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