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Last updated: July 11. 2014 4:49PM - 220 Views

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The fields around Delaware County are finally drying out and most of the wheat has been harvested. Farmers have been bailing straw and hay while taking advantage of this great weather. Hopefully this dry weather will also help the corn and soybean crops.


According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service weekly report about 4% of the state’s corn was silking which is in line with the 5-year average. Here in Delaware County I would say our crop progress is a little behind the rest of Ohio, given the wide range in corn planting dates in the county this year. Some late planted corn may not achieve tasseling and silking until August. Dr Peter Thomison, OSU Extension Corn Specialist says that the pollination period is the most critical period in the development of a corn plant from the standpoint of grain yield determination. Stress conditions, such as hail damage, high temperatures and drought, have the greatest impact on yield potential during the reproductive stage. Dr Thomison points to the following as some key steps in the corn pollination process.


Most corn hybrids tassel and silk about the same time although some variability exists among hybrids and environments. On a typical midsummer day, peak pollen shed occurs in the morning between 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. followed by a second round of pollen shed late in the afternoon. Pollen may be shed before the tassel fully emerges. Pollen shed begins in the middle of the central spike of the tassel and spreads out later over the whole tassel with the lower branches last to shed pollen. The pollen grains start to drop in early to mid morning after dew has dried off the tassels. Pollen is light and is often carried considerable distances by the wind. However, most of it settles within 20 to 50 feet.


Pollen shed is not a continuous process. It stops when the tassel is too wet or too dry and begins again when temperature conditions are favorable. Pollen stands little chance of being washed off the silks during a rainstorm as little to none is shed when the tassel is wet. Also, silks are covered with fine, sticky hairs, which serve to catch and anchor pollen grains. Under favorable conditions, pollen grain remains viable for only 18 to 24 hours.


Pollen of a given plant rarely fertilizes all the silks of the same plant. Under field conditions 97% or more of the kernels produced by each plant may be pollinated by other plants in the field. Thomison points out that the amount of pollen is rarely a cause of poor kernel set. Each tassel contains from 2 to 5 million pollen grains, which translates to 2,000 to 5,000 pollen grains produced for each silk of the ear shoot. Shortages of pollen are usually only a problem under conditions of extreme heat and drought. Poor kernel set is more often associated with poor timing of pollen shed with silk emergence. This is rarely a problem unless the crop is experiencing extreme drought stress.


The Western Agronomy Field Day is this coming Wednesday, July 16, at the Western Agricultural Research Station, located in South Charleston.


Sponsored by Ohio State University Extension, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC), and the Ohio Soybean Council, the program is designed to inform and educate farmers about the agricultural research advances made in the past year at the Western Agricultural Research Station, one of Ohio’s largest agronomic research stations, said Harold Watters, an OSU Extension agronomy field specialist and coordinator of the university’s Agronomic Crops Team.


OSU Extension and OARDC are the outreach and research arms, respectively, of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.


Walters says that another benefit to attending the field day, besides the new ideas and research presented by the speakers, is the understated importance of exchanging different perspectives with other producers with similar circumstances and production goals. Everything corn and soybean producers need to know can be learned here, through the exchange of new ideas between experts and peers.


The workshop will feature:


— Steve Culman, an OSU Extension specialist in soil fertility, who will discuss fertilization.


— Mark Loux, an OSU Extension weed specialist, who will discuss how farmers can control weeds in their corn and soybean fields.


— Ron Hammond, an OSU Extension and OARDC entomologist, who will discuss management techniques for insect pests, specifically stink bugs.


— Laura Lindsey, an OSU Extension soybean and small grains specialist, who will help growers maximize soybean production.


— Mark Sulc, an OSU Extension specialist, who will discuss alternative forage options with producers.


The workshop is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Western Agricultural Research Station, 7721 South Charleston Pike, in South Charleston. The event will also feature a wagon tour and a locally catered lunch. Participants can pay the $20 fee at the door. Register by email or phone by contacting Harold Watters, watters.35@osu.edu, 937 599-4227; or Joe Davlin, davlin.1@osu.edu, 937 462-8016.


Rob Leeds is an OSU Extension Educator, Agriculture.


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