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Fostering Sustainable Agriculture through Research, Education and Policy since 1984

Fresh from the (corn) field

According to the calendar, another summer is nearly behind us and fall is upon us, but as I write this I see more 80-degree days in the forecast. Every year and every season have different challenges especially when you are farming, but each year we keep track of our corn growing degree days and our rainfall amounts.

In 2017 we had a lot of rain prior to corn tasseling but it was very dry during pollen shed. In 2018, we had frequent rain events in June, usually during the short window of opportunity for cultivation, followed by about 2 inches of rain in July and a wet August (although not as rainy as some).

Growing degree days (GGD) or growing degree units (GDU) are a measure of heat accumulation. Corn is a heat sensitive crop; during the season, this measurement is used to predict when tasseling and later when harvest might be. Tracking GDD’s can also be useful to predict when a pest outbreak might occur.

This year so far, we have accumulated more corn growing degree days than 2017. The days and nights were consistently warmer than last year. We are about a couple of weeks ahead compared to last years corn planting. It could mean an earlier harvest for us, but we will have to see what early fall brings, with weather and farming, all things are subject to change.