Striped Corn Leaves

April 15, 2024

Striped corn leaves can be indicative of various issues, including herbicide damage, diseases, genetic factors, and nutrient deficiencies.

Herbicide Damage from Drift or Misapplication

  • Herbicides containing active ingredients like atrazine, glyphosate, or 2,4-D can cause symptoms ranging from chlorosis (yellowing) to necrosis (tissue death) and lead to striped leaves (Figure 1).
  • Different herbicides have varying effects, but they can interfere with chlorophyll production or disrupt normal cellular processes, resulting in irregular leaf patterns.
Striped corn leaves caused by herbicide carryover
Figure 1. Striped corn leaves caused by herbicide carryover.


  • Certain diseases can cause striped patterns on corn leaves. For instance, maize dwarf mosaic virus (MDMV) and maize chlorotic dwarf virus (MCDV) can result in yellow or light green stripes (Figure 2).
  • The presence of pathogens like fungi or bacteria can also cause striping due to the disruption of normal cellular function or nutrient uptake.
Maize dwarf mosaic virus of corn.
Figure 2. Striped corn leaves caused by Maize Dwarf Mosaic Virus (MDMV). The disease is transmitted when aphids feed on corn after feeding on infected johnsongrass and other grass plants.

Genetic Factors

  • Corn products may naturally exhibit striped patterns on their leaves due to genetic factors. These patterns can be part of the plant's phenotype and are not indicative of health issues.
  • However, genetic abnormalities or mutations can result in abnormal striping patterns that may affect plant health and productivity.

Nutrient Deficiencies

  • Nutrient deficiencies like nitrogen, manganese, magnesium, or sulfur can cause striped patterns on corn leaves.
  • Nitrogen deficiency, for example, often manifests as yellowing or striping starting from the tips of lower leaves and progressing upward (Figure 3).
  • Potassium deficiency symptoms usually start from leaf edges of leaves and progress inward.
  • Sulfur deficiency symptoms are a yellowing of the younger or “new” leaves of the corn plant. When the corn plant is small, mild sulfur deficiency symptoms show up as interveinal chlorosis of the leaves emerging from the whorl.
The effects of nitrogen N deficiency in corn leaves
Figure 3. Nitrogen deficiency symptoms.

It is important to accurately diagnose the cause of striped leaf patterns to implement appropriate management strategies if necessary. This may involve careful examination of the plant, consideration of recent herbicide applications, testing soil and tissue samples for nutrient levels, and monitoring for signs of diseases. Multiple factors may contribute to leaf striping, making a comprehensive approach to management necessary. Your Channel® Brand Technical Agronomist can help identify the cause for striping and offer potential recommendations when necessary.

Channel Agronomist
Lance Porter


Rieck-Hinz, A. and Mallarino, A. 2021. What causes striped corn leaves? ICM News. Integrated Crop Management. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Web site verified 2/18/24. 1110_360867