Stalk breakage during the growing season can be a corn yield robber. That means it is important to compare standability when choosing a hybrid, says Denise McWilliams, agronomist with the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

McWilliams says research in Nebraska during 1993 and 1994, both years with devastating windstorms during the growing season, provided valuable information on stalk breakage.

"In 1993, treatments that gave corn a shot of rapid growth, such as optimum to excess nitrogen, rotation with soybeans and early planting increased the severity of damage," she says. "In continuous corn, only 7% of the stalks broke, compared with 33% in rotated corn. Among hybrids, damage ranged from 4 to 33%. Breakage increased from 8% with no fertilizer added to 24% with optimum nitrogen fertilization or slightly above."

McWilliams recommends putting the most emphasis on standability for fields more prone to wind damage, especially when conditions in those fields are ideal for rapid corn growth.

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