Saturday, June 13, 2015

Silver Leaf Syndrome



Got Silver?

With the unusual growing season we have had so far, this year, there are bound to be some interesting things happening in the fields. The cooler temperatures we were experiencing when corn was emerging had farmers worried about potential frost damage. While we didn’t see any nights get below freezing, farmers are seeing “silvering” on their corn leaves and their concerns are rising. What farmers are seeing in the field is called “Silver Leaf” Syndrome. While it’s nothing to worry about, here’s a brief explanation on how it occurs:

When cool nights occur, in late May and early June, the earth experiences rapid heat loss from terrestrial surfaces, this can also be referred to as radiational cooling. On clear and calm nights with temperatures from the low 40’s to mid-30’s, low levels radiational cooling can occur. When this does occur, the cooling rises to the atmosphere and during this travel, the leaves that are horizontal to the ground can get hit by the cooling. This minor chilling is what causes the leaves to turn “silver”.  If there was a leaf that was vertical or shielded by another leaf, it won’t exhibit symptoms.

Silver leaf syndrome on a plant with twisted whorl syndrome - Picture courtesy of Jim Hughes
As stated before, there is no need to worry. This type of cold damage is minor compared to actual frost damage. As the whorl releases new leaves, they will be normal in appearance and resume normal growth.  More information can be found at:


 -Austin Kocher, Illinois Burrus Intern

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