About a month ago, we took a look at how the corn fields in my part of Indiana were doing. Every field is going to be a little different, depending on soil conditions – some soils hold water better than others, some have more nutrition value to the crops, some are dry and sandy and need a lot of extra attention from the farmer.
Here is the same corn field, one month later.
This year has been an exceptional year for growing corn around here. We had a very wet spring, which meant that the ground was good and saturated with water to get the plants off to a good start. Once the corn was growing, there was still plenty of rain to keep it going. (Corn is around 80% water, so it needs a lot of moisture to develop kernels.) And we have (overall) had warm days with cool nights. That is just how corn likes it!
Many corn stalks have two fully-developed ears this season. This is not quite normal. Most of the time, one corn stalk will have one “normal” ear and one ear that is much smaller, with very few kernels on it. The weather and growing conditions have been so perfect this year, that most of the corn is producing extra!
This is field corn, not sweet corn (what’s the difference?), so the corn is being left in the field to reach full maturity and start to dry. This ear is fully developed (see the difference from last year), and is starting to dry. See the little dents in the kernels? Those kernels started off nice and plump and round, just like the sweet corn that you are probably enjoying now. As the corn kernels start to dry, they lose moisture from the inside of the kernel. The outside part of the kernel (the hull) contracts around the inside of the kernel, forming that little dent. (Field corn is also called “dent corn” for this reason.)
I’ll continue to keep an eye on this corn field for the next few weeks. Things are going to start changing pretty fast as the corn continues to dry out and we get closer to harvest time.
Do you have corn fields near you? What do they look like?