It’s been hot and steamy across the Corn Belt the past couple weeks. With talk of elevated overnight temperatures, there was an assumption that it could hinder pollination. As you drive down the I-55 corridor, that’s not the case, as uniform fields show promise for a record corn crop in 2018.
“We like our ear to pollinate - it's going to start at the butt of the ear move to the tip - and we like that to happen within five days,” said Isaac Ferrie, Crop-Tech Consulting. “This year, we're probably closer to 2 or 3 days on a lot of the stuff that we're looking at, which is good.”
He said it’s been prime pollination for corn in central Illinois this year. If pollination is extended past five days, that’s when trouble can brew in the fields, costing farmers yield.
“If we get outside of that five-day window and the development of the kernels on the tip are a lot further - or not as nearly as developed as the ones on the butt- they're more likely to abort as we go into it.”
There’s no doubt Illinois has seen its fair share of heat this year, however, Ferrie said he’s walked through numerous fields, pulling back the ears to see how pollination is going so far, and he said the majority of the crop seems unfazed by the high temperatures.
“Hot temperatures can negate or lessen the viability of the pollen itself,” said Ferrie. “If we have a lot of humidity early in the morning and stuff like that we can really reduce the time that the pollen sacs are open and then we're having pollen drop, so that can be a problem, but from what we're seeing here in central Illinois we have not run into a lot of problems.”
Ferrie said his biggest concern is some of the earliest planted corn didn’t see a near-perfect stand, which can lead to an uneven crop that pollinates at different times. Overall, though, he said the crop in Central Illinois is in good condition.
Ferrie said even though many fields are at the tail-end of pollination in Illinois, he encouraged farmers to keep their eye on the crop. It’s vital now to watch for disease and insect pressure, especially aphids.
“We don't want aphids to wax the top of that plant, we don't want disease to take over that plant,” said Ferrie. “Just because you checked yesterday and disease was minimal, it doesn't mean you can stop that disease so double-check field conditions every few days.”