There are a lot of nice looking corn fields out there. The earliest planting looks as good as any. At this growth stage I really believe corn plants talk to us. We just have to turn on our ears.
Some are telling us they are happy and excited to be here, like the plants from the field in the picture above. Others are telling us they are not as happy and feeling a little purple. Purple colouration is caused by the anthocyanin pigment which is triggered when the leaves produce more cabohydrate than the plant can consume and the carbohydrates build up in the leaf tissue. A healthy young plant will have no problem consuming all the carbohydrates produced because it is rapidly growing. A sick plant will look like the one in the picture below. The plant sugars are accumulating and it has an upset tummy. It is not growing well and it is speaking to us.
The reason for this plant not feeling well was easy to understand when I looked at the roots.
It is a text book example of a corn plant trying to penetrate a shallow layer of compaction and not yet succeeding. It looks like the plant was growing on top of a flat rock. In this case, I believe the rock was created by manure tanker traffic and shallow tillage. Anything that interferes with root growth below ground will result in a purple, slow growing plant above ground. The plant is telling us loud and clear why it does not feel well.
The two inches of rain this weekend will help these plants recover. It will have to keep raining in June to allow the roots to penetrate through the compaction zone.
If your plants are purple, look at the roots. They are speaking to you.