Needless to say, things aren’t looking good for corn in southwest Indiana. This is the cornfield that was planted on April 9. We looked at how dry this field was getting in July. This is the same field on August 8, or 17 weeks after planting.
The bottom of the stalks are dead, and the tops are starting to go as well. Most of the leaves on the corn plants are also dead.
Some of the stalks are breaking and falling over.
This is an ear of corn, from the same field, two weeks ago. Most of the plants in this field did not grow an ear at all. Here’s one that did manage to start an ear. This ear is finished developing – you can tell because the silks at the top of the ear have turned brown. When the ear is still growing and developing kernels, the silks are a pale yellow-green.
When we opened the ear, this is what we saw. Although there are kernels in place all along the ear, only a few of them actually developed. It takes a lot of water for corn kernels to develop – they are made up of over 80% water! When the corn plant can’t get enough water, the kernels won’t develop.
Here is a different field, a few days later. This area of the county has a different type of soil, and the ground holds moisture a little better than the other field. You can see the brown ears of corn with their brown silks.
Here’s a close-up of one of these ears. You can see that the leaves that enclose the ear are dry, and the silks are a dark brown. This ear is also finished developing.
Here are the kernels inside this ear of corn. What a difference a little water can make! This ear is full of kernels.
Water is so important to all of us. The timing of rain is so important in growing food. It doesn’t matter how much rain we get now, the field we’ve been following since April isn’t going to make any more corn. Just a little bit of a difference in how the soil holds water can make a huge difference in how the plants and crops develop during the growing season.
Mark Gerdes says
One more thing farmers turn corn in to silage, sweet corn is also made in to silage. Field corn is turned in to silage right out of the field using a silage chopper. Sweet corn can be made in to silage right out in the field or the farmer can buy from a sweet corn processing plant.