"However," Nafziger said, "there is little to be done once the lack of nodal roots causes corn plants to fall over." There are reports that some of this corn is already being replanted.
The only source of quick relief from problems with nodal roots is rainfall, and even that needs to happen before plants start to fall over. Root tips can dry out and suffer damage by contact with hard, dry soil. In theory, moving soil into the row to keep plants standing until it rains will help, but it would have to be done before plants start to fall over. Watering down the row might help; however, wetting the soil in a band 4 inches by 2 inches over 30-inch rows requires approximately 1,500 gallons of water per acre and may not be practical.
One question is whether plants perched on top of the soil will recover to become fully productive even if rain wets the soil enough to allow nodal roots to penetrate it and grow. Such roots tend to grow downward at a steep angle, which might give the plant a small advantage. But there may be fewer roots, and rapid water uptake might be a challenge. The risk of lodging will also increase due to less anchoring by the root system.
"With their delayed start and the fact that some roots initiated above the soil surface often do not penetrate the soil surface very well, such plants may become fully productive only if the season turns out to be relatively free from stress," Nafziger said. "Even though we're pleased with the early planting into generally good conditions, 2012 has not been stress-free so far, at least in some areas."