While cooler temperatures across Indiana this past week have felt nice, it’s not what the Hoosier corn crop needed. Purdue Extension corn specialist Bob Nielsen says, “We’ve had some pleasant days for humans- nice, cool, whatever. That’s not good for the corn crop at this point.”
Nielsen continued, “We need to be maxing out on GDDs (growing degree days) yet in September. So, like today, it’s forecast to be at 90. That’s great. I’ll take that kind of heat any day of the week for the rest of this month and into October because this crop really needs GDDs. That’s what drives development is the accumulation of heat.”
In Monday’s USDA Crop Progress report, corn condition fell from 58% good/excellent a week ago to 55% this week. In Indiana, the crop is rated just 33% good/excellent. Corn doughing in Indiana is at 82% compared to 99% last year. Corn dented is well behind last year’s 84% at 43% this year, and maturity is at 8% compared to 38% last year.
Nielsen says these numbers continue to indicate that this year’s crop is among the slowest, or latest, crops in the last 40 years.
“We’re right on par with 2009 at this point and that was a nasty harvest season. So, I’ll have to admit, every time we talk, we seem to look ahead and say, ‘Well if it would improve, this will happen.’ We’re running out of time for it to improve.”
I spoke with Nielsen at Purdue’s agronomy farm in West Lafayette on Tuesday. Their trials there include corn planted the first week of June with a 101-day hybrid. He says it’s just beginning to dent.
“In a normal year when you get to that point, I would tell you you’ve got about 30 days to reach black layer. Well, that would mean October 10. I think what will happen is we will, in fact, black layer earlier than we think simply because as we get out to late September and early October, the plants begin to naturally shut down in response to the shorter days and the generally cooler temperatures. So, I think we’ll be maturing in fewer than 30 days from now, but I’m still thinking it’ll be no earlier than about October 1. And that’s to reach black layer, which is roughly 30% moisture.”
Nielsen reiterated, “So, that’s why we need a really warm October to give us good drying in the field because none of us want to be harvesting corn in the high 20s.”
Nielsen manages the “The Chat ‘n Chew Café”, an online resource with agronomic updates from Purdue and other land-grant universities throughout the corn belt.