Agriculture - Wholesale
Agriculture - Our Retail       Centers
Turf & Ornamental
Cob Products
Contract Manufacturing
Agriculture - Specialty
Agriculture - NPK
Turf & Ornamental
Industrial Cob Products
Lab Bedding
Contract Manufacturing
Close Map

Update from the Field: Do Your Ears Hang Low?

Posted by Dave Dyson, Agronomist on September 29, 2021

If you have been around small children, you likely have heard the song “Do Your Ears Hang Low?”. The origins of the song may have a bluer origin, but most know the song from Disney’s Winnie the Pooh. In the cartoon, a donkey with large ears continuously complains about his ears hanging too low and dragging along the ground. The premature death of this year’s corn crop in the east, caused by a massive influx of fungus, has many concerned about corn ears hanging too low and falling to the ground. 

In my experience, the disease in this year’s corn crop is the worst I have ever seen, but it was not unexpected. In parts of Indiana, The Andersons’ test plots received over 40 inches of rain since planting. This, combined with the massive heat wave in July and August, provided the right environment for fungal growth. Diseases like tar spot, northern leaf blight, and grey leaf spot prohibit the plant from taking in nutrients, Figure 1. The plant still requires nutrients to complete the reproduction cycle, so it transfers nutrients from the stalk to the developing the ear. As a result, the stalk strength decreases significantly as the plant cannibalizes the stalk to finish the ear, Figure 2.  

Figure 1: This picture taken by Frankfort, IN, on 9/16/21 shows all three major corn diseases attacking at once. The black spots are tar spots, the cigar shaped lesions are northern leaf blight, and the rectangular lesions are grey leaf spots. 

Figure 2: This picture was taken by Larry Bryne near Oakley, MI, on 9/16/21. It shows a corn plant completely cannibalizing the stalk to transfer nutrients to the still developing ear.  

The massive rainfall is not completely negative. Since this year’s crop never wanted moisture, a big corn yield is expected. However, those heavy ears of corn attached to withering stalks could lead to lodging issues. Lodging is when the corn plant falls to the ground. When lodging occurs, yield losses can be severe due to ear droppage. According to the University of Georgia, it only takes 2 corn kernels every square foot to add up to 1 bu/ac of yield loss. To avoid potential lodging, harvest impacted fields as soon as the grain moisture reaches 26%. The stalk strength is deteriorating and will not keep the crop off the ground for much longer. 

To reduce the chance of disease in next year’s crop, a piece of the disease triangle needs to be removed, Figure 3. Applying a stalk degradation product like Bio Reverse® this fall will help minimize the host. Next year, a fungicide application prior to tassel and again at R3 may be needed to protect yield and maintain stalk strength. Including Over Pass® 22-0-2 with those applications will provide nutrients to help add yield.  

Figure 3: All three pieces of the triangle must be present for disease to be present. If we remove one piece, the disease will not occur. Adding Bio Reverse will reduce, reuse, and recycle the corn residue more rapidly than relying on nature alone. Using Bio Reverse as one part of a multi-prong plan, which includes a fungicide application, will help reduce next year’s disease.

If you need help determining which field needs harvested first or have questions about Bio Reverse, contact your local trusted Ag Advisor from The Andersons.


Please complete the form, and we’ll get you in touch with your Territory Manager from The Andersons. 

David Dyson

Dave Dyson is a regional agronomist for The Andersons’ Farm Centers which are located throughout Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana. He is an Indiana native and grew up on a dairy farm in Miami County. A graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Crop & Soil Science, Dave has a deep knowledge of various agronomic topics and is committed to helping growers improve their crops. If you have any questions, Dave can be reached at

© 2021 The Andersons, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Bio Reverse and Over Pass are registered trademarks of The Andersons, Inc. 

Hey: market_feed - 1249