Talk to farmers casually about the corn crop and they may say that it looks OK—that's unless they are in a very hard hit area- then most admit it just doesn't look good. But even those who think they might have a decent crop don't sound convincing.
One farmer told us this week at the Indiana State Fair that he thinks the crop is decent, but when he walks in a field, he pulls a good ear, and then maybe one with so few kernels he can count them. He hasn't done yield checks yet, but his voice indicates he's hoping for a decent yield, while part of him is telling himself it may not be as good as he thinks.
Bob Nielsen, Purdue University Extension specialist, says it's hard to know what to expect this year. There were so many problems with pollination and kernel formation due to drought and heat that it's difficult to pinpoint exactly what caused which kind of damage this year.
Part of the damage in the Crop Watch '12 field in central Indiana occurred because the plants put out tassels at a short height, but didn't put out shoots at the same time. A few stalks did in the worst spots, and those eats typically contain anywhere from no kernels to 50 or 60 kernels. Occasionally you'll find a decent ear. It's apparent that a decent ear this would be small if not a nubbin in a very good year.
So much of the plant's ability to withstand the drought and heat appears tied to soil type. In darker, wetter soils, even in the worst areas, there is a crop, although it may be half of what it should have been. Tip abortion is pronounced, even in the better soils that tried to produce a decent crop.