A significant frost and freeze event occurred this past week across a wide area in the Western Corn Belt. Temps dropped to the mid to upper 20’s the morning of May 16th. Luckily it appears most of the corn to the north where temps were the coldest was only in the spike to 1 leaf stage which enabled it to readily survive. Areas further to the south have shown more damage to above ground tissue since a lot of the corn was at the 2-4 leaf stage. However, overnight temps do not appear to have dropped below 28 degrees for long enough to cause significant plant death. The growing point does not rise above the soil surface until about V6. At this time the vast majority of fields appear to have begun to recover with new healthy re-growth in the last 2-3 days aided by the recent sunny warm days. This current warm spell is just what these plants need in order to rapidly recover. By this time it should be fairly easy to determine the level of actual plant death in these fields. From what I have seen, there appears to be very little to no actual death in most fields. Growers who have been out in their fields feel much better than they did a few days ago. However, many are concerned about the large number of plants in fields that are exhibiting leaf whorl tie-up where the dead leaf tissue meets the new tissue that has recently re-grown. The vast majority of these tied-up plants should break free and unravel within the next few days. Warm and windy days are once again just what the doctor ordered. As the dead tissue continues to decay it will likely separate from the new re-growth and allow the whorl to unravel. Bob Nielsen with Purdue University Agronomy states, “The dead tissue of the damaged part of the whorl may restrict this leaf extension for awhile, but in most cases will not restrict it completely.”
It is possible that some plants in these fields will not unravel properly resulting in a lost plant but if past events tell us anything, it should be minimal. Just as was the case 1-2 days after the freeze/frost itself, there really is nothing to do but wait. Go back and check these fields in another 3-4 days. There will likely be significant improvement. Making a decision to replant at this time would not be wise. If you have more questions regarding frost/freeze damage contact your local Hoegemeyer DSM or Agronomist.