Agronomy Blog

Ponding Effects on Early Stage Corn

by Matt Teply | Apr 28, 2017

With the recent weather and the 14 day forecast of continued wet and cooler weather there are going to be areas of ponding or standing water in corn fields.  Being from Western Nebraska we see ponding in corn fields but it is normally man made, irrigation, and expected.  But, every now and then we get a toad drownder of a rain and we have some ponding issues.  Not long lived in most cases. That could be what we see over the next two weeks if the experts in the weather business are correct.

The effects of ponding on corn can vary and is dependent on a few factors:  1) What stage of development the corn is in; 2) The duration or amount of time the crop was in a ponded area; 3) The air and soil temperature of the ponded area.

In most cases when corn is in the V6 stage and below, the time period for which the crop can be in a flooded area would be 2 to 4 days.  The cooler the weather and the soil temperature can extend the amount of time the plant can survive.  Cooler temps mean less biological activity by the plant which requires less energy.  Most flooded soils will be depleted of oxygen within 48 hours.  So regardless of temperature, the plants ability to operate without oxygen is short lived.  If the weather is warm and the promotion of plant biosynthesis processes are operational then the depletion of available oxygen within the soil will be faster thus resulting in quicker plant death.

If the ponding is short lived and the plants get through the first couple days then there can be other effects on the plants.  Disease problems such as Pythium, fusarium, crown rots, anthracnose, crazy top, and common smut can be more prevalent in acres were the crop was under stress.  Poor early root development can occur in over saturated soils and that may lead to other issues as the crop matures.  There is loss of nutrients in most cases.  The loss of nitrogen through leaching and denitrification can be significant.  This will cause crop deficiencies as the crop reaches later growth stages.

I’m from the High Plains and the one thing I’ve learned living out here is that one NEVER COMPLAINS ABOUT PRECIPITATION no matter when it comes or how it comes.  Because you’re never really sure when the next precipitation event might come your way.  Could be 2 hours and it could be 2 years.  And a little ponding here and there is a lot better than a drought everywhere.

References and additional information

  3. Tech 252 Flood Damage 2015 updated

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