Area farmers watching corn during one of most critical phases

Authored by Jim Langham on Jul 12, 2010

One of the most critical, if not the most critical phase, of corn development is emerging in many fields as corn plants are either producing or working their way towards pollination.
Following a less-than-successful wheat harvest, and considering the fact that some farmers never were able to plant all of the soybeans they would have liked, this season’s corn crop is especially crucial to many for the success of the harvest season.
According to Jay Gould, Adams County Farm Service director, the county corn crop is currently as varied as the time when it was planted. Many area farmers were able to plant early, and unless the stalks were victims of flooding or ponding, much of that corn looks pretty good, Gould said.
“One of the biggest concerns to many right now is the root system,” said Gould. “Because we had so much rain early in the summer, corn stalks tended not to go deep into the ground or root themselves the way farmers would have liked to have seen. They may be more vulnerable to wind damage if a severe storm would happen to hit those fields.
“During last week’s heat and humidity, it appears that some stalks were trying to root down some, but for many, it is now going to be necessary to have more frequent showers for much of the summer to produce the water that the corn needs.”
Another problem many area farmers have noted is the fact heavy flooding rains tended to deplete the nitrogen in the soil, and many farmers weren’t able to get into their fields to apply the extra nitrogen that they would have liked to.
The Ohio State University CORN newsletter noted this past week that on a typical midsummer day, peak pollen shed occurs in the morning, typically between 9 and 11 a.m. and again late in the afternoon.
“Pollen shed is not a continuous process. It stops when the tassel is too wet or too dry and begins again when temperature conditions are favorable. Pollen stands little chance of being washed off the silks during a rainstorm as little to none is shed when the tassel is wet. Also, silks are covered with fine, sticky hairs, which serve to catch and anchor pollen grains,” stated the newsletter.
“Under favorable conditions, pollen grain remains viable for only 18 to 24 hours. However, the pollen grain starts growth of the pollen tube down the silk channel within minutes of coming in contact with a silk and the pollen tube grows the length of the silk and enters the female flower (ovule) in 12 to 28 hours,” added the newsletter.
The newsletter noted that a well-developed ear should have between 750-1,000 potential kernels, each producing a silk. Under good conditions, all silks will emerge and be ready for pollination within three to five days, which usually produces enough time for all silks to be pollinated before pollen shed ceases.
Other concerns, said Gould, continues to center around hay production to catch up with what wasn’t pulled from the fields earlier due to all of the rainy weather.
Weather-wise, weather specialist Rick McCoy said that conditions this week should be fairly favorable for corn development and pollination.
Another system is predicted to bring a possible abundance of moisture into the area early in the week, followed by near heat-wave conditions later in the week, as temperatures late in the week approach the 90-degree mark once again.
“If we get the heat late in the week that they’re talking about, we’ll be glad if we have some good supportive moisture in the ground,” said McCoy. “Last week’s break in the continuous heavy rains we were having, combined with all of that sunshine and warm weather appeared to be a boost to everything.
“Once we get through the potential for moisture early this week, it appears that we’ll return to that sunny, hot pattern late in the week, with only a small chance for afternoon and evening thunderstorms, pretty much typical summer weather,” McCoy said.

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