The biggest changes in the crop at this point in the summer are taking place behind the husk leaves of each ear as the kernels mature.
The height of the stalk reached its maximum about four weeks before this photo, so our attention has been drawn to formation of the ears.
I also watch for stalk and leaf drying since the plant typically dries as the kernels are drying.
By the 16th week, some stalk drying was visible, but less than I expected. Referencing photos from previous years convinced me that the drying rate at 16 weeks wasn't much different than most years.
Zooming in on where the action is, the ears appeared close to full size on August 3, but weren't showing signs of drying yet. Growing degree days were 11% fewer than normal for the week.
Not much change in the appearance of the ears this week, and the number of growing degree days for the week was only one unit off the historical average.
The week of August 17 showed more signs of stalk and ear drying even though growing degree days were 7% fewer than normal.
By week 16, some of the husk leaves were pulling away to reveal beautiful kernels beneath, but those that were visible were obviously not fully mature. Unseasonably warm weather during that week produced 28% more heating degree days than average, and the plants appeared to accelerate their drying. As long as there are plants in the field, we'll keep reporting more progress toward harvest!