With planting season wrapping up, most producers are anxious to get out into the field to check on the status of their crops. While scouting fields, one will be looking for many different things such as seedling diseases, leaf diseases, insects, nutrient deficiencies, etc. Oftentimes a producer or crop consultant may come across something rare, odd or unique out in the field. One of those rare finds may be something called genetic stripe in corn (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Note the white almost bleached color of the corn plant leaves on the left. Corn plant on the right is not affected by genetic stripe.
Genetic Stripe Symptoms
White stripes on leaves (Figure 2) are often observed and catch the attention of those who are scouting fields. This condition may occur on only a few scattered plants and may even appear on only one side of the plant (Figure 3). The cause is due purely to genetics and should not be confused with a disease or deficiency symptom. Cool, wet spring weather generally slows the growth and development of early emerging corn often resulting in a wide array of colors including purple, purplish-red, yellow, white, and even striped. This off-color corn is not unexpected under such conditions.
Figure 2. White stripe observed on corn leaves which is characteristic of genetic stripe on corn. Photo by Connie Tande.
Figure 3. White leaves caused by genetic stripe observed on one side of the corn plant. Photo by Connie Tande.
What to Do?
The weather forecast for warm temperatures and sunshine will likely alleviate most discoloration and malformities of corn plants. However, keep in mind, that regular scouting of corn in the early season will help identify problems that are not temporary (i.e. compaction, insect damage).