Corn ears showing stink bug injuryStink bug damage in soybeans is well documented in Ohio; however, farmers may be surprised to learn that stink bug injury can also be seen in corn. Usually the damage in field corn is localized to “scarring on kernels” or causing a “mottled” appearance near the tip of the ear but severe injury has been observed (see photo). Sweet corn is particularly susceptible to stink bugs, with similar damage symptoms.

Corn ears showing stink bug injuryLast week we saw stink bug injury at the Northwest Branch near Hoytville and the Waterman Farm in Columbus. At Waterman, the damage was associated with brown marmorated stink bugs, but green stink bugs were more common at NW Branch. Damage was evident on husks where stink bugs appeared to be feeding (see photo). In the southern states, stink bugs cause significant losses in field corn. When stink bugs pierce through the husk and feed on the ear during early development, the cob will not develop on that side, but continue growing on the back side giving the ear a characteristic banana shaped appearance.

The shuck will also stop developing, exposing the grain to bird and insect damage. Injury also includes shrunken and/or missing kernels. Heavy stink bug populations can reduce not only yields but also the quality of the grain. While we have not seen any economic losses from stink bugs in field corn, growers should be aware of their presence and the damage they can cause.