All photos by Tom J. Bechman
A corn plant’s goal in life is to produce as many viable progeny — kernels — as possible on each ear, and to complete them before frost occurs.
400 BUSHELS … THIS YEAR?
If you could produce ears like this in that narrow space, the sky might be the limit.
BACK TO REALITY
This photo shows reality, and typifies 2019. The two double-eared stalks from the previous photo (to the left) are close together, with few neighbors on either side. They are also just far enough away from where water ran when it rained to avoid soil compaction. The smaller pair of stalks in the middle weren’t as lucky. The real “losers” are the two stalks on the right with minimal brace roots that already fell over.
WANT MORE PROGENY
These plants sent out second shoots, but when the weather turned dry, they fizzled. One didn’t have a cob; the other had a cob, but there were very few kernels on it.
Both these ears sent out slender shoots and silks from the same node as the main ear. These extra shoots draw energy that could be devoted to the main ear.
TO THE TIP
These ears kept receiving signals to fill kernels all the way to the tips. More kernels per ear means more progeny potential for the plant and more yield for the farmer.
RETREAT AND REGROUP
These ears from plants growing under drought stress show that plants elected to abort tip kernels to attempt to produce as many viable kernels that were already further along as possible on limited resources.