July 6, 2010

Crop update: Corn silking getting underway

Seven percent of Nebraska's corn crop was silking as of July 4, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in today's crop progress report. That's even with the five-year average but up 2 points from last year at this time. Nationally, 19 percent of the crop is silking, up from last  week's 7 percent, last year's 8 percent and the 12 percent average.

As for overall crop condition, USDA said 73 percent of Nebraska's corn is in good to excellent condition, while 11 percent is fair and 6 percent is poor to very poor. Nationally, 71 percent of the crop is good to excellent (down 3 points from a week ago but even with last year), while 19 percent of the crop is fair and 10 percent is poor to very poor.

Overall, the country's corn crop is in outstanding condition and all signs are pointing to above average yields -- although weather over the next few weeks is critical since corn is entering the silking phase. This is the reproduction portion of the growing season, with tassels appearing on the top of corn plants to drop pollen on the silks coming out the top of the husk. Each silk represents a kernel -- so this process is critical for yields. Once the silk turns brown you know it's been pollinated. The silk falls off after it fertilizes the ovum to form a kernel.

Back in Nebraska, USDA's state field office noted that the week ending July 4 was mostly dry week with sunshine, allowing farmers to get back into fields. However, statewide rainfall on Sunday again shut down field activities. Generally positive rainfall figures, however, have allowed some farmers to turn off irrigation since most top soil and sub soil have adequate moisture.

This week's photos, from the Nebraska Corn Board's crop progress set on Flickr, feature photos submitted by the Imperial FFA chapter (top two) and Holdredge FFA chapter (bottom image).

The top image shows the height of the crop (it's grown a lot since our last update), with the canopy beginning to close. The middle image is a great shot of corn roots spreading out into the soil, while the final image is a top-down look at a bit younger plant. Soon, it will shoot up and produce a tassel.

For more, check out the Corn Board's Crop Progress Update.

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