Some decisions about ear size and number of kernels per row were made already in the Crop Watch '13 field. All systems were go with plenty of nutrients and moisture, and average to below average temperatures, so those decisions should have been good ones for yield. It's the exact opposite of one year ago.
One year ago this week the temperature reached 100 degrees or more for at least five days in a row. There was also no moisture. It culminated July 7 with 107 degrees in the shade on a very accurate thermometer. That day will live in infamy for me since I hate heat and walking burnt-up cornfields.
But back to now: the next decisions for the corn plant will come soon with tasseling and pollination. Then as grain fill starts – if there is adequate moisture – the signals inside the plant should be to fill as many kernels as possible. That will mean less tip dieback than a year ago. Plants will want to fill the kernels, instead of cannibalizing the last kernels, those on the tip, to save those formed early toward the butt of the ear.
If all is well by the time July 20 rolls around, you should have a good idea how much yield you want to guess when you fill out your entry in the Crop Watch '13 contest. Entry forms will be coming soon on the Web and in Indiana Prairie Farmer. Those who come the closest will win free seed from Seed Consultants, Inc., for the 2014 planting season. The prizes are well worth taking time to study the field and enter the contest.
There's still plenty of time for hiccups along the way. Northern Corn leaf blight could be an issue, although the hybrid planted in the field is supposed to be resistant to most diseases. We'll be watching in case Japanese beetles or rootworm beetles start clipping silks. As long as they don't clip to within a half-inch while pollination and fertilization is still going on, it shouldn't be an issue.
Watch for further updates so you can make an educated yield guess for the field when the time comes.