The 2020 growing season has certainly been an unusual one.
Following two of the latest spring freezes in history, then dry conditions in late spring, moisture has been plentiful this summer in Hardin County – sometimes too plentiful. While the wet conditions have boosted potential for crop yields, it has come with some unwanted circumstances.
Farmers likely can expect a later and wetter harvest this fall. Some corn was planted late and even though the heat has helped the late planted corn catch up, it still likely will be behind earlier planted corn. Most corn hybrids in Kentucky need about 2,700 to about 3,300 GDD’s or heat units to reach black layer (physiological maturity).
Once the corn reaches black layer, it then relies on the simple physics to dry down to a harvestable moisture. A lot of corn this season will reach black layer and try to dry down in September and early October, when the day length is shorter and temperatures historically are cooler. Those shorter days and cooler temperatures will slow dry down of the corn kernels. Barring a sudden and dramatic shift in the current weather, corn harvest in Kentucky will be late. If September ends up being one of the hottest and driest on record, then disregard the previous comments.
However, if September is “normal” or follows the current weather patterns, producers need to look at what should be a good harvest, but a late and wet harvest, and prepare their bins and driers now.
The wet weather also has brought on another concern in the way of disease. Southern Rust was found on corn in Hardin County in late July. This disease can be detrimental to yield if it infects the corn before the milk stage. Late planted corn that had not received a fungicide likely needed one to protect against this pest. While late planted corn was already set to be behind in the harvest schedule, if it had a fungicide applied, it will now hold it’s moisture even later, delaying harvest further and ultimately causing farmers to harvest wet corn this fall.
While the wet weather has come with it’s own set of worries, they should come with plenty of reward. Frequent rains have greatly benefitted the crops and unless the weather pattern changes, we’re set up to have a bin buster this fall. For more information on corn production in Hardin County, contact the Hardin County Extension Service at 270-765-4121.