Corn maturation is way ahead of schedule this year. Recently, I turned on my television to the “oldies” channel and watched part of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Oklahoma.” Driving around Beadle County in mid-July, I find myself humming the opening tune from the movie, “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” and wondering if the “bright golden haze in the meadow “ is talking about South Dakota rather than a state several miles to the south. We just might have corn growing “as high as an elephant’s eye and it looks like it’s climbing clear up to the sky!” In fact, the corn is so tall in some places that I am not sure I could see any part of an elephant if there was one standing in a field. My old goal of knee high by the 4th of July has progressed to shoulder high by the 4th and this year we had many fields that were 6-8’ tall by the 4th. Why?
A typical corn plant takes about 2500 GDU (growing degree units – a measure of heat units that corn needs to grow) to reach maturity in early October each year. This spring, we got into our fields later than normal and it stayed cooler into May a little longer than we would like to see. Yet, Mother Nature always has a card or two to play, and, by the middle of July 2018, we are running almost 350 GDU’s ahead of our normal. That may seem great for hiding elephants in our fields, but it pushes our pollination up by about 2 weeks. This could come back to be a negative if we get into a hot dry last half of July.
By the time you read this we will know what happened in late July, and I am planning (hoping) that it is wet and our corn crop is continuing on its race to another bumper crop in 2018 (USDA is forecasting over 14 billion bushels- a 172 bu per acre average yield nationwide).
My take home thoughts are this: this spring, I talked to growers about staying the course on their normal maturity corn hybrids, and many did keep with their plans. If you planted a 103 day hybrid and we get average GDU’s from here on out, we could see those hybrids reaching black layer (physiological maturity) by early September!
Early corn maturation will create a race between corn and soybean harvest and we will be in an even bigger rush than normal to get everything in the bin. Here’s to a race to bring in a bumper harvest with no losers and that “everything’s goin’ your way!” Have a Beautiful Day!
Featured Image: Carl Wycoff