The cortical microtubule arrays of higher plants are organized without centrosomes and feature treadmilling polymers that are dynamic at both ends. The control of polymer end stability is fundamental for the assembly and organization of cytoskeletal arrays, yet relatively little is understood about how microtubule minus ends are controlled in acentrosomal microtubule arrays, and no factors have been identified that act at the treadmilling minus ends in higher plants. Here, we identify Arabidopsis thaliana SPI RAL2 (SPR2) as a protein that tracks minus ends and protects them against subunit loss. SPR2 function is required to facilitate the rapid reorientation of plant cortical arrays as stimulated by light perception, a process that is driven by microtubule severing to create a new population of microtubules. Quantitative live-cell imaging and computer simulations reveal that minus protection by SPR2 acts by an unexpected mechanism to promote the lifetime of potential SPR2 severing sites, increasing the likelihood of severing and thus the rapid amplification of the new microtubule array.