Have you been following the progress of the corn fields in Indiana? We haven’t had much rain in the last month (or longer), but that hasn’t hurt the corn crop much. By this time, all the growing is finished, and farmers are just waiting for the corn to finish maturing and to dry so it can be harvested. (Remember, sweet corn is harvested early in the summer but field corn is not harvested until the fall when it has partly dried on the plant.)
The corn is starting to look pretty dry around here, and some farmers have been able to start harvesting already. This field is not quite ready to harvest, but it will be ready in the next couple of weeks.
There are actually two different corn fields in the photo above. The field closest to the left was planted a little later, and the corn is still a little more green. As you look past the orange and white post, that is the second corn field (the one I have been watching this summer). The corn in the second field was planted a little earlier, and is closer to harvest time.
Even within the same field, some areas may dry out and be ready to harvest earlier than others. It just depends on the drainage and how well certain parts of the field hold water. If one part of the field tends to hold water better than another part (like the bottom of a hill compared to the top of a hill), the corn plants in the dryer ground will be ready to harvest earlier. Farmers will watch the way the entire field changes, and will start to harvest based on the average corn plant, not necessarily the field as a whole.
Here is a close up of some of the corn stalks in that second field. They are starting to get pretty dry and brown. The green leaves are fading, and aren’t nearly as bright and plump as they were last month. The ears of corn have really changed from last month, getting very brown and dry.
See all the deep dents in these kernels? This is why field corn is often called “dent corn.” As the corn kernels dry out, the outer hull of the kernel collapses inward and forms this dent. This is a good indication that the corn is close to ready to harvest. (Look at the big difference from last month.) These kernels are also getting very hard, like popcorn kernels.
Have you been watching the fields around you? How are things changing?