My colleague Glen Arnold (@putnamag on Twitter) sent an email this morning that caught my attention. Glen wrote that a farmer came in to see him with a couple of samples of earless corn. The earless corn came from a field that was planted with two hybrids, and the other hybrid has normal ears. The farmer indicated that the earless corn hybrid had nice emergence in the spring but a very, very dry growing season. Most stalks have husk for an ear but no ear can be seen. Some plants have a very short ear with no kernels. The farmer plans to chop this field for (low quality) silage for his brood cows as there is not reason to harvest it for grain.
The farmer asked if we could shed some light on this problem for him. I told Glen that I had not seen earless corn. In 2002, I saw some very, very drought damaged popcorn. But even the drought damaged popcorn still had an ear (although there may have only been a few kernels per ear).