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Brown Silks on Corn Plant Indicate It's Time for Next Phase of Development

Brown Silks on Corn Plant Indicate It's Time for Next Phase of Development
Crop Watch 2014: Fields planted in early May or earlier continue path toward maturity.

Now is the time to zero in on what you think the Crop Watch '14 field will yield.

Come up with your average yield to the nearest tenth of a bushel, and email it to tbechman@farmprogress.com. Include your name, address, cell phone number and acres farmed, along with your best guess for yield. One entry person, and only one per immediate household. Previous winners are not eligible. The deadline for email entries is 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sept. 15.

Crop Watch 7/18: According to Pollination Shake Test, Crop Watch Field is Moving Along

If you get closer than anyone else, or your guess is in the top three, you could win free seed corn from Seed Consultants, Inc., for 2015.

Now is the time to zero in on what you think the Crop Watch '14 field will yield.

So what's going on in the Crop Watch '14 field? Right now it's still pollinating. As silks turn brown, it signals pollination is over. Conditions have been near ideal for pollination, with plenty of moisture but not too much, and temperatures topping out in the mid-80s during the day and into the mid-60s at night.

Ears that pollinated successfully are headed into the blister stage. That's the R 2 stage, where 'R' stands for reproductive, according to the Purdue University Corn & Soybean Field Guide. The blister-like kernels should be white in color and contain clear liquid.

Crop Watch 7/14: Crop Watch Field Progressing Quickly in 80 Degree Weather

More brown silks than green: This plant is likely into the blister stage, and will soon head into the milk stage. Damage from hail storms that remove foliage is more crucial at this point.

The next phase will be R3, where kernels turn yellow, and 'milk' begins to accumulate inside the kernels. This can start as early as 18 to 22 days after silking. A good portion of the Crop Watch '14 field is likely only days away from entering this phase. Kernels are taking in and storing starch. If the weather goes south, maybe too dry, tip kernels could still be aborted. If not, it could be full-speed ahead.

Why know the stage of growth? It will help you in making decisions on things such as fungicide applications. If you see disease lesions on leaves getting closer to the ear leaf, your seedsman says the hybrid is susceptible to the disease you're seeing and you want to protect yields, this may be your last chance to apply fungicides. The window will be closing on timely applications as the plant heads deeper toward maturity.

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