Short stature corn hybrids are on the horizon and close to becoming commercially available through our Smart Corn System. Compared to the height of traditional corn products (9 to 12 feet or more), short stature corn hybrids’ height is targeted to be less than or equal to 7 feet (measured from the soil surface to the top collar of the flag leaf) depending on the genetics of each product (Figure 1).

Photo of two adjacent fields with traditional vs short stature corn
Figure 1. Traditional-height corn on left and short stature corn hybrids on right.
Picture taken July 28, 2022, Irvington, IL.


  • Reduced risk of yield losses from lodging or greensnap in high winds and challenging weather conditions.1
  • Season-long access for more timely, precise application of crop protection and nutrient applications with standard ground equipment.
  • The ability to explore higher seeding rates, which has the potential to produce higher yields.
  • Improved silage quality because of reduced lignin content.2


A traditional-height corn plant produces about 18 to 21 leaves during its life (as the plant grows, some leaves senesce; therefore, not all are present at maturity). These numbers remain similar with short stature corn hybrids; however, the leaves are closer together because of shorter internodes (primarily below the ear) within the Bayer breeding trait that will be the first to market (Figure 2).

Customary corn growth stages, VE to R6, are the same in short stature and traditional corn except a differentiation in height between the two corn types becomes noticeable when rapid growth begins around V6 to V8 (V refers to vegetative and the number refers to leaf number according to the visible collar method of leaf development) (Figures 3 and 4). The letter “R” refers to reproductive with the number referring to stages of kernel development (Table 1).

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Side-by-side photo of regular tall corn next to short stature corn
Figure 2. Comparison of internode length for
traditional-height corn (left) and short stature corn hybrids (right) at Gothenburg, NE.
Photo of short stature corn field
Figure 3. Short stature height differentiation
begins to show around V6 to V8 growth stages. Picture taken June 16, 2021, Irvington, IL.

Table 1. Corn Growth Stages3

Vegetative Growth StateReproductive Growth Stages
VE – emergence, seedling coleoptile breaks through soil surfaceR1 – silks appear
V1 – first leaf collar is visible; leaf has rounded tipR2 – fertilized embryos are white blisters with a clear inner fluid
V2 – second leaf collar is visible; this and succeeding leaves have pointed tipsR3 – developing kernels are yellow with a milky-white inner fluid
V3 – third leaf collar is visible, photosynthesis begins and plants rely on the nodal root systemR4 – developing kernels are doughy as inner fluid thickens from starch accumulation
V4 – fourth leaf collar is visibleR5 – more than 50% of kernels are dented
V5 to V6 – fifth to sixth leaf collars are visible, growing point is above the soil surface, nitrogen uptake increases, and kernel row numbers are determined based on growing conditionsR6 – kernels develop black layer at kernel tip, signaling physiological maturity
V7 to V(n) – seventh to nth leaf collars are visible and plants are growing rapidly; internode length of traditional corn increases substantially, while internode extension of short stature corn hybrids is truncated for the breeding trait
VT – tassels emerge and plants transition to reproductive stages; plants reach full height
Chart illustration comparing short stature corn hybrids and traditional corn hybrids
Figure 4. Diagram depicting difference in height of short stature corn hybrids compared to traditional corn. Height differentiation may be visible around V6 to V8 as internode length in traditional corn starts to increase rapidly.

1 Based on Bayer internal trials (2018-2020) across a range of environments (535 locations, 16 states), including numerous testing locations in the path of the 2020 Derecho event across Iowa.
2 Based on Bayer internal silage trials (2017-2020) across a range of environments (15 locations, 10 states), including testing locations in major dual-purpose and silage market areas.
3 Reed, Heidi. 2020. Corn growth stages. Penn State Extension. The Pennsylvania State University.
Web sites verified 8/5/22

Want to learn more about short stature corn hybrids and the next evolution in corn production? Find out more about the Smart Corn System below.

*The Smart Corn System including short stature corn developed through traditional breeding is expected to be available, subject to final commercialization decisions, for planting in the 2024 growing season.

This material may contain “forward-looking statements” based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Bayer’s public reports which are available on the Bayer website at The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.