Corn Keeps Up the Pace

June 23, 2000
I had my first report of tassel appearance this week; it was on corn that was planted in early April in the western part of the state. At its current rate of development, I expect most of the corn planted in April in central Illinois to reach tasseling by late June and early July. Records for early development are being broken this year. This should prove positive for the corn crop, as it looks like it will enter the pollination period with fairly good (to excessive) soil moisture in most fields. Of course, July weather will still need to be favorable to make the most of this early start, but if the current weather patterns hold, things are looking good for this crop. It's probably turning into one of our "wetter droughts" on record!

The corn crop in southern and northern Illinois is somewhat behind in development, due both to later planting and to cooler temperatures in the northern areas. Both have also had more excessive rainfall, which lowers the temperatures, decreases sunlight, and in some cases causes damage (to plant roots or from nitrogen loss) from standing water. Most of the crop has entered the rapid growth phase (V6 or larger) now, and so will grow rapidly, especially if problems of excessive soil moisture don't persist.

While the crop condition draws our attention at this point, it pays to remember that conditions during vegetative development are usually less important for yield than are conditions after pollination. That assumes that conditions during pollination are favorable, which they should be this year. With early development and favorable soil moisture in most places in Illinois, yields will likely be most dependent on the crop's having adequate moisture and moderate temperatures during the last half of July and the first half of August. Average rainfall and temperatures a few degrees lower than normal during that period would be the ideal combination.--Emerson Nafziger

Author: Emerson Nafziger