There has been a recent concern about corn that is showing up in fields in the Northern parts of Illinois and the Southern parts of Wisconsin that is called, “twisted whorl syndrome”. This is seen when corn is in its younger stages, (V3-V6), and there is an extreme change in weather. Often, it is when the weather goes from cold and wet to sunny, with warm temperatures. The reason you see "twisted whorls" is because the corn is going from a time where development was slow to a time of fast development due to the warm weather. You will often see it starting with the fifth leaf, where the whorl is extremely tight and the plant is bent over. Below is an example of what was just mentioned.
"To put in simple terms, the corn plant can’t keep up with its own growth. It’s like when you were young and growing, then had shin splits from stretching your tendons. It hurt, but you grew out of it."
This syndrome is not yet fully understood by agronomists and crop scientists. For some unknown reason, the whorled leaves just don’t spread to allow the new leaves to emerge properly, which causes the plant to angle because of the pressure from the new leaves.
Don’t blame herbicides! It’s always easy to blame these symptoms on the herbicides, but with the weather that has occurred recently, this is the best explanation of what’s going on in your field.
Should farmers be worried? Walking out into the field and seeing this might not be the most pleasant thing you see all day, but give it time. In time, the corn tightly rolled whorl will unfurl and growth will resume as normal. Farmers have seen very little yield affect from this in the past and it’s nothing to get your underwear in a “whorl” about. To learn more: http://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/news/timeless/TwistedWhorls.html
-Austin Kocher, Illinois Burrus Intern