Weekly Scouting Report - July 31, 2014
I scouted corn in Iroquois and Kankakee County this week and I didn’t see anything that caused concern. Insect numbers and disease pressures are low. Most applications of fungicide have been sprayed. Some fields are showing signs of nitrogen loss.
This week I decided to exhibit the R2 – R5 growth stages. I think this is important because I’ve been asked numerous times about what could go wrong this late in the season. The vulnerability of this crop lowers as it moves through these four stages:
Kernel Blister Stage (Growth Stage R2)
About 10 to 14 days after silking, the developing kernels are whitish "blisters" on the cob and contain abundant clear fluid. The ear silks are mostly brown and drying rapidly. Some starch is beginning to accumulate in the endosperm. Severe stress can easily abort kernels at pre-blister and blister stages. Kernel moisture content is approximately 85 percent.
Kernel Milk Stage (R3)
About 18 to 22 days after silking, the kernels are mostly yellow and contain "milky" white fluid. The milk stage of development is the infamous "roasting ear" stage, that stage where you will find die-hard corn aficionados standing out in their field nibbling on these delectable morsels. Starch continues to accumulate in the endosperm. Endosperm cell division is nearly complete and continued growth is mostly due to cell expansion and starch accumulation. Severe stress can still abort kernels, although not as easily as at the blister stage. Kernel moisture content is approximately 80 percent.
Kernel Dough Stage (R4)
About 24 to 28 days after silking, the kernel's milky inner fluid is changing to a "doughy" consistency as starch accumulation continues in the endosperm. The shelled cob is now light red or pink. The kernels have reached about 50 percent of their mature dry weight. Kernel moisture content is approximately 70 percent by R4. Kernel abortion is much less likely to occur once kernels have reached early dough stage, but severe stress can continue to affect eventual yield by reducing kernel weight.
Kernel Dent Stage (R5)
About 35 to 42 days after silking, all or nearly all of the kernels are denting near their crowns. Kernel moisture content at the beginning of the dent stage is approximately 55 percent.
A distinct horizontal line appears near the dent end of the kernel and slowly progresses to the tip end of the kernel over the next 3 weeks or so. This line is called the "milk line" and marks the boundary between the liquid (milky) and solid (starchy) areas of the maturing kernels.
Severe stress can continue to limit kernel dry weight accumulation between the dent stage and physiological maturity. Estimated yield loss due to total plant death at full dent is about 40%, while total plant death at half-milk line would decrease yield by about 12%