Evaluating Corn Maturity in a Hot and Dry Year

Aug 21, 2023

Corn growth and kernel development chart
This hot and dry year has put growing degree days (GDD) ahead of the norm, and for corn planted in early May, the GDDs have already stacked up to over 1900 (as of last week).
Corn in Federated’s service areas is roughly right in the middle of the late milk dough and early dent stages,” said Annamarie Zack, Federated ag sales rep at the Rush City location. (See chart. Source unknown.)
The corn generally needs about 500 more GDDs to reach the desired 2400 GDDs for full maturity. “With a drought year, the growing degree days and the maturity will be delayed,” Zack said. Conditions have been far less than perfect with heat and low moisture this year.
“When you hit the early dent stage, that is the start of the milk layer … in the dough stage, the inner fluid begins to thicken due to starch accumulation” she said.
After that, the kernels begin to dry down from the top of the kernel towards the cob and each kernel get its dent, which then leads to the development of the black layer at the base of each kernel.
This corn growth and development chart, produced by the University of Wisconsin Extension in cooperation with several other Midwest extension offices, describes corn development and includes good descriptions (with images) of the reproductive stages.
Contact your Federated Agronomist with any questions about your corn crop’s maturity as the season progresses.

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