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The Backstory on Ear Tip Back

Categories: GROWING, CORN

​​​​​​​Missing kernels at the end of corn ears are often referred to as “tip back”, and may have occurred in some of your fields this year. Tip back can often be associated with poor pollination, but it can be a symptom of many causes occurring at different points in time.

Though it's tough to determine exactly what causes tip back, agronomists usually associate it with stress. According to the University of Illinois, drought, loss of leaf area or lack of nitrogen can result in stress that lowers photosynthesis and in turn, decreases the sugar supply. This decrease in available sugars due to one or more infield stresses often results in kernels being aborted. While drought and/or reduced available nitrogen from a wet spring can’t always be avoided, artificial stress from planting too high of a seeding rate can be managed with good knowledge of how hybrids respond to high and low populations.

Some hybrids naturally tip back more than others, so don’t always jump to the conclusion you have a problem that needs fixed. Nothing can be done to restore missing kernels from this year, and even successful fields can experience varying amounts of tip back. Ask your Golden Harvest Seed Advisor about choosing the best population for your hybrid and minimizing stress to increase kernel count in the season ahead.

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