Mild weather could add corn yield through kernel size

Cool, wet weather could also lead to soybean diseases, says Monsanto agronomist.

Fridays cool temperatures made it seem more like October than August, but the Illinois corn crop isnt complaining. (Photo by Catrina Rawson)
Friday's cool temperatures made it seem more like October than August, but the Illinois corn crop isn't complaining. (Photo by Catrina Rawson).
By DeLoss Jahnke

As expected, cooler than normal temperatures greeted Illinois on Friday, making the “dog days” of summer feel like high school football weather.

So what does the low-stress environment mean for Illinois corn, especially growing in those areas that suffered through the heat of July?

“You can’t regain what has been lost,” Asgrow DeKalb agronomist Lance Tarochione told the RFD Radio Network on Friday. “But you can make the most out of what you’ve been given, and that is what a cool, moist August will do.

“Great conditions for grain fill enables that plant to produce the largest kernel possible,” he continued. “And if you don’t have as many kernels as you could have, either due to lost population or imperfect pollinations, what have you, making the best of a bad situation would be to make those kernels as huge as possible, and that’s exactly what a slow, cool, low-stress grain-fill period will do for you.”

Many Illinois corn fields have smaller plant populations than usual because of the wet spring, but Tarochione says kernel size typically improves in those situations.

As a result, fewer kernels are needed to produce a bushel, giving hope to many farmers regarding this year’s yield potential.

Despite the cool conditions, Tarochione says it should not create an environment for soybean disease pressure.

“I haven’t yet walked my first field of SDS (sudden death syndrome),” he said. “Although, I’m still thinking that with the moisture that some parts of the state have had and the cool, wet conditions we had early that we should have had ample opportunities to get soybean seedlings infected with SDS.

“And if you’ve had plenty of moisture during the growing season, I would expect SDS at some point.”

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