"Brittle snap" or "green snap" is a concern of corn growers every summer. It is corn stalks breaking because of violent winds, most often occurring during periods of rapid vegetative growth by the corn. The most common brittle snap regions of the country are the Plains and Northern Plains where high winds are more common.

DuPont Pioneer agronomists explain that during corn's vegetative growth phase, rapidly elongating internodes are often brittle and susceptible to breakage. The two most common periods for brittle snap damage are V5 to V8, when the growing point is just advancing above the soil line, and V12 to R1, or two weeks prior to tasseling until silking.

Almost every farmer who has farmed for a number of years, has seen or experienced brittle snap. Sales agronomists in the most susceptible regions of the country always try to help farmers pick hybrids that can withstand the wind during the most susceptible growth periods.

Less use of growth regulator herbicides reduced the incidence and severity of brittle snap in the last decade. However, recent increases in weed resistance to glyphosate mean that a broader array of herbicides will be used in the future, and brittle snap risks may increase, suggests Pioneer agronomists.

Because brittle snap has been around since the beginning of commercial corn production, Pioneer has provided a simple summary about brittle snap and Pioneer's answers to the problem.

  • Brittle snap, or breakage of corn stalks by violent winds, is more likely to occur in the Plains and Northern Plains areas of the U.S., where high wind events are more frequent.
  • The two most common periods for brittle snap damage are V5 to V8, when the growing point is just advancing above the soil line, and V12 to R1, or two weeks prior to tasseling until silking.
  • Many factors affect the severity of brittle snap injury, including growing conditions, field geography, crop management practices, soil type and hybrid genetics.
  • Growth regulator herbicides can increase the incidence and severity of brittle snap injury by impacting cell division in the nodal area and increasing stalk brittleness.
  • To spread the risk of brittle snap, growers should plant a package of hybrids and manage growth regulator herbicides carefully.
  • Some seed companies provide a brittle stalk rating on their hybrids. The Pioneer score combines a hybrid’s tendencies for snapping at both the early vegetative and mid-season window of susceptibility.
  • To improve hybrids for brittle snap resistance, Pioneer is using mobile wind machines that simulate the turbulent winds that occur during violent storms. Consistency of hybrid ratings is increased by this practice.