Crops, Youth

Shorter than Normal Corn?

Crop ET Weekly Report
The ETgage I outside of Geneva changed 2.0 inches for the week of June 29 – July 6th. Corn in the reproductive stages has a coefficient of 1.1 inches so corn in the area used 2.2 inches or .31 inches per day.

Have you noticed shorter than normal corn?

One thing many have either noticed or heard is how unique this growing season is from most others. From various crop professionals to horticulturists, this year has definitely been different from other years I’ve experienced since in Extension with plants progressed earlier than normal. It has also been a drier than in recent years. With that in mind, I’ve had several questions which were recently addressed on UNL Extension’s CropWatch website which I’m summarizing below.

In many areas of the state we’re seeing shorter than normal corn this year, leading to the question, “Why this year?” To explain this, Keith Glewen, UNL Extension consulted with two top corn physiology experts — Bob Nielsen, extension corn specialist at Purdue University, and Tom Hoegemeyer, professor of practice in the UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture. His CropWatch article depicts the following information.

Nielsen and Hoegemeyer explain that a variety of interacting factors can lead to shorter than normal corn. First, let’s look at this corn crop to date. We planted most of the crop much earlier than normal, which led to corn plants developing during a period when in most years, the seed would still be in the bag. After planting, we experienced warm daytime growing conditions and cool, almost cold nighttime temperatures.

The mature corn plant height depends on three factors: amount of solar radiation on the top leaves during growth, water, and temperature. We usually don’t have issues with solar radiation limitations in the western Corn Belt; this year water was more of a factor. Much of the young corn plant’s development was in drier than normal growing conditions. There was adequate moisture for growth but nothing like we have experienced in recent years.

Water availability and temperature impact growth rate. Cell division is affected much less than cell expansion, and slower growth rates lead to slower root development, further limiting water uptake and nutrients. Slower cell expansion leads to shorter internodes and smaller leaves, and this leads to less water uptake and light interception, CO2 uptake, further impacting growth. Because of these changes, we have less internode elongation and thus early planted corn tends to be shorter than later planted corn.

Will conditions leading to shorter corn impact yield? Not necessarily. More important to the final yield of this year’s crop is the heat and moisture stress that the crop is now experiencing as it moves into pollination.  With the high heat we experienced this week, it will be a concern.

Fillmore County Fair

Fillmore County 4-Her’s will be showcasing their projects July 14-19th at the Fillmore County Fair.  As we prepare for this event, it is important to emphasize that 4-H youth are more important than 4-H projects, learning how to do a project is more important than the project itself, competition is a natural human trait and should be recognized as such in 4-H work; it should be given no more emphasis than other 4-H fundamentals. And one of my favorite points is that, “a blue ribbon 4-H’er with a red ribbon entry is more desirable than a red ribbon 4-H’er with a blue ribbon entry.”

Come and support 4-H’ers with fair activities as listed below:

Saturday, July 14 

9 a.m. Horse Show

Sunday, July 15
4:30 p.m. 4-H/FFA Youth Livestock Judging Contest

Monday, July 16

Check out the 4-H/FFA Static Exhibits, Ag Hall

8:00 a.m. Sheep Show, Goats following

3:00 p.m. Rabbit & Poultry Show

Tuesday, July 17

6:30-8:30 a.m. 4-H Breakfast, Ag Hall

8:00 a.m. Swine Show

6:30 p.m. Cake Auction

7:00 p.m. 4-H Awards Night

Wednesday, July 18

Prior to Beef Show Feeder calves, check-in

8:00 a.m. Beef Show

Thursday, July 19

8:00 – 10:30 a.m. Round Robin Showmanship  

Noon 4-H Picnic, Ag Hall

1:30 p.m. Livestock Sale

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