Monday, July 25, 2011

Corn in the backyard 2011, weeks 9 & 10

 July 17

Height = 101 inches
Last week growing degree days = 199
Historical average growing degree days = 175

Growing degree days since planting = 1454
Historical average since planting = 1327

 July 24

Height = 101 inches
Last week growing degree days = 254
Historical average growing degree days = 180

Growing degree days since planting = 1708
Historical average since planting = 1507

The week preceding July 17 was warmer than average, and found the corn stalks pushing 11 inches higher despite the plant's need to push energy into pollinating and growing ears.  The corn should have passed the pollination midpoint during that week although my amateur observations failed to recognize clues of that event.  The following week was much warmer than average as evidenced by the 254 growing degree units recorded in just seven days.  Unfortunately, hot weather during the pollination cycle could be disastrous for the plant.  Dry heat can stress a plant that doesn't have access to sufficient moisture, and the stress can limit the effectiveness of the pollination. Any ovules not fertilized during the short pollination window will not form kernels, and if the kernels are limited, the harvest is poor.

This is one of the stalks on the 17th showing a major ear and minor ear, both with healthy silks.  The plant was not exhibiting signs of stress as far as I could tell.

In this picture, that same stalk is to the left of center and doesn't look a lot different than before other than the silks have started to turn brown, indicating they've done their job, and kernels should be forming.  After almost a week of no rain, and temperatures over 90 F everyday, God blessed us with over an inch of rain on the 24th.  Hopefully that's sufficient to ward off stress in the short term until the weather returns to a more normal pattern.  Check back again next week to find out if normal kernel development continues!


  1. wow - we planted some sweet corn and it is far behind your corn. Also, a hail storm last Sunday shredded much of the foliage, so it is further set back. We are getting rain, but also mosquitoes with it, which we had not had till this week. Gardening has a learning curve here and we're just starting!


  2. Kurt,
    So what your saying in other words is that it's been hotter than blue blazes (I was thinking a different word for it.)and the corn thinks so too!

  3. Lida -- don't feel bad, sweet corn generally doesn't grow very tall, and I would guess your season probably starts later than ours. I'm sorry you had to deal with hail, that's a good reminder of the providence of God in all things.

    Doug -- thanks for contributing the appropriate technical description of our situation. How are the crops on your farm?