indiana Prairie Farmer Logo

Kernel depth may be determining factor for corn yield this year

Crop watch 2015: Only the combine yield monitor will answer the debate about corn kernel depth for sure.

Tom Bechman, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

September 15, 2015

2 Min Read

Look at the halves of two corn ears in the picture. Which half has the deeper kernels and the smaller cob?

If you answered the ear on the right, you are correct. These ears came from the Crop Watch 2015 field.

Crop Watch 9/14: Ground zero for turning in crop watch 2015 yield guesses!

The farmer planted 12 rows of each hybrid in his 24-row planter all the way across the field. He wants to spread pollination risk, and he does, since the hybrid on the left is rated about two days earlier than the one on the right. In reality, it tasseled and pollinated about three days before the hybrid on the right.


At this stage when these ears were pulled and broken into two pieces, the milk line was considerably farther down the kernel in the ear on the left than in the ear on the right.

Deeper kernels and cob size are largely determined by genetics. So is color of the cob. Nearly all cobs are red, although one company says they have a new hybrid with a white cob that is a tremendous yielder, and which stands well.

In the not-so-distant past, a white-cob-type hybrid became associated with corn that didn't stand well. However, seed reps assure that's no longer the case. The genetics are completely different today, they note.

Crop Watch 9/11: Make your Crop Watch 2015 corn yield guess now

Bob Nielsen, the Purdue University Extension corn specialist, says that up to one-third of the weight of the kernel goes in during grain fill. So grain fill was in mid-process when these ears were examined.

Despite considerable disease pressure, the stalks were still functioning at this point. However, the tap was turned off and it didn't rain on this field very much during August and into early September.


When the yield monitor on the combine issues a report on yield, we will let you know. Then it will be easier to see if the hybrid with the deeper kernels winds up yielding more or not.

More Crop Watch: Depth of kernels matters on final corn yield

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm, Indiana Prairie Farmer

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like