Translucent Kernels

Source: Mike Vose, University of Illinois Orr Research Center.

Source: Mike Vose, University of Illinois Orr Research Center.


Initial symptoms of this oddity are the appearance of plump, translucent, liquid-filled kernels scattered randomly among already-dented kernels throughout an otherwise normal-looking ear.” Later, as kernels mature, the abnormal kernels shrivel and abort, “resulting in a shriveled kernel appearance not unlike mature sweet corn kernels.”


Affected kernels have also been characterized as “bubble kernels” containing only clear liquid with perhaps a small amount of white material–probably starch–that may later turn yellow. Liquid in these “bubbles” eventually dries up, leaving what are essentially seed coats without an embryo or endosperm. “Bubbles” may flatten as kernels on both sides press in during grainfill, if there are only a few, scattered “bubble kernels” on an ear.



“Translucent” and “bubble kernel” kernels have been related to late glyphosate application. Ears exhibiting jumbled kernel rows at maturity have resulted from late, off-label (in terms of plant size) applications of herbicides and various adjuvants. Shriveled, aborted kernels scattered throughout ears promoted the jumbled kernel appearance.



Follow recommended application guidelines for herbicides and various adjuvants. Avoid late glyphosate application, off-label in terms of crop size.



Nafziger, E. 2010. “Bubble Kernel” in Corn. The Bulletin. University of Illinois. Issue No. 16, Article 8.  Available at [URL verified 1/16/2019].


Nielsen, R.L. , P. Sellers, and G. Ruhl. 1999. Translucent Kernel Syndrome.  Available at [URL verified 1/16/2019].