Photos by Tom J. Bechman
BEFORE THE RAIN: This area of replanted corn in the Corn Watch ’20 field was showing signs of moisture stress on July 7, after several days of no rain and 90-degree heat. The next photo shows what the field looked like after it rained over the next 36 hours.
AFTER THE RAIN: This is the same field of corn less than 48 hours later. What made the difference? The field received about 1.5 inches of rain in two different events a day apart.
HUMAN SOIL COMPACTION: Outlines of boot prints are still evident between these two corn rows. Flags were placed as plants emerged to track day of emergence. Note curling and rolling leaves on these plants.
NO PRINTS, NO LEAF ROLLING: This is the exact same two rows as in the previous photo, on the very same day — but looking the other direction, where no one walked to flag plants. Note that lower leaves aren’t rolling or showing moisture stress.
RAIN MAKES GRAIN: This is the same two rows shown earlier, where leaves were curling due to moisture stress likely caused from compaction from human foot traffic. Note that leaves are unrolled, and the corn appears normal in this picture, taken about 40 hours later. It rained 1.5 inches between the time the two pictures were taken.
FRESH AS MORNING DEW: Moisture hangs heavy on these leaves after dew, following rain the day before. This is the same corn shown earlier, looking the opposite direction from where corn was flagged and afflicted by deep boot prints.
LOTS OF PRINTS: Here’s what the emergence plot looked like just a few days after the first flags were placed by emerging plants. Notice the deep boot prints. The choice was either walk into the field and make tracks or forfeit the project. Plants that emerged the first day needed to be flagged so they could be distinguished from plants that emerged later.