The Q&A Archives: corn crisis

Question: i have a small corn garden and it was doing quite well but now it appears that it is dying. the leaves and stalks have a reddish purple line going up and down. What is this and can my corn be saved?

Answer: Without seeing the plant I can't tell exactly what is going on. There are actually corn varieties that naturally develop the reddish streaking you describe. If your plants are growing normally, you may just have one of those varieties than takes on a dark streak as it matures.

A nutrient deficiency (phosphorus) can cause reddish streaking of the stalk and a reddish tint to the leaves. But, if the plant is dying in could indicate a condition called "barren plant" in which the corn stalk will not develop ears and will simply die. If it is a nutrient deficience you may be able to fertilize your plants to see if that improves the situation. But, usually by the time you see the symptoms, the plants are too far gone to save. Try feeding with a 5-10-10 fertilizer to see if that helps. Hope it does!

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