Cooler-than-normal, wetter-than-normal summers tend to produce big crops. In fact, in cool, wet summers the USDA estimate tends to increase from August through the rest of the year.
Jim Newman demonstrated that by studying 20 years of data while he was a Purdue University Extension climatologist before retiring.
Unless August throws a curveball, this could be one of those cooler-than-normal, wetter-than-normal years for many areas in Indiana and throughout the Corn Belt. In the Crop Watch '14 field, pollen was shedding a week ago. Silks were out to receive it.
Crop Watch 7/14: Crop Watch Field Progressing Quickly in 80 Degree Weather
Silking appeared to be timed perfectly. That should happen when there is little stress. Most of this field, other than a couple of small water pockets, hasn't been stressed yet this season.
Was fertilization occurring yet? Bob Nielsen, Purdue University Extension corn specialist, perfected an easy way to tell if kernels are fertilized a few years ago. If fertilization has occurred, the ovule has been fertilized, the silk has done its job and the silks detach and fall away.
Nielsen simply peels back shucks carefully. Then he holds the ear horizontally and gently shakes it. If the silks remain attached, those kernels aren't pollinated yet. If the silks fall away then the kernels are fertilized.
Picking two ears with partially brown silks on purpose, we performed the shake test. In both cases the silks along most of the ear fell away. Only silks near the tip of the kernel remained attached. Those are the kernels that are fertilized last. The verdict seemed to be that of the two ears checked, the majority of the kernels on the ear were already fertilized.
Crop Watch 7/11: Herbicides Keep Weeds Out of the Corn
There was plenty of time and conditions should be sending the signal for the rest of the tip kernels to be fertilized. Unless conditions heat up and turn dry quickly, where plants have adequate nutrition you could expect less kernel tip abortion than in some recent years, even last year, when it turned dry late and the plant sacrificed tip kernels to make sure it could complete the kernels on the rest of the ear.