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Corn Crop Turns Purple

Last updated on Wednesday, May 23, 2012

(UNDATED) - The corn crop is already coming in this year but instead of being the traditional green, many fields have turned a brilliant purple. It’s left many farmers scratching their heads.

Pioneer Agronomist Justin Welch says he had 15 calls in two days asking about the purple colored corn.

Welch says the corn is healthy and says that the cool nights and temperatures in the 60's and above during the day has caused the corn to turn purple.

The quick change in the color can happen in hybrid corn plants with the right genes. Most corn varieties have five of the eight genes needed to turn purple. Some hybrids have all eight. All that's needed after that is the right temperature.

Welch says it is something that is not seen often.

It's those cold overnight temperatures that are critical to get that purple coloring to pop out. We even found some plant leaves that were half purple and half green. The purple shows up because it was exposed to the cold but the new leaf is coming up green and perfectly healthy.

"The new growth that we see coming out of the plants is coming out green which is a good thing. So at 4-5 days this field will be bright green again and we'll have nothing to worry about," said Welch.

And for concerned farmers this is great news and much better than the alternatives.

"We've seen some purpling later on in the season that can be brought on by compaction, phosphorus deficiencies and many other things," said Welch.

But this corn will continue to grow green from here on out. It's not a sign of disease or ill health. It's merely breaking down to a genetic reaction to the cold temperatures in the overnight hours.

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