Early corn crop ‘chest-high by Fourth of July’

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An old saying notes that corn should be at least, “knee-high by the Fourth of July” in order to be on a good track for a timely harvest.

This year, with the July 4 Independence Day holiday just hours away, local corn growers are seeing fields that are chest high in some places.

“Early planted corn fields are about three feet tall now and are doing well,” according to Jeff Miller, a senior resource educator at Oneida County Cornell Cooperative Extension. “Later planted corn ( first and second week of June) are suffering more from dry conditions because of smaller root systems.”

In more insight, Miller points out that the overall height and mass of the plant is more greatly impacted by insufficient levels of moisture.

He continues, “If we have reasonable amounts of rain for the rest of the growing season (about one inch per week) we would probably see little impact on silage or grain yield from early planted fields with moderate impact on late planted fields. Another critical period in the growth and development of corn plants will arrive soon, that is pollination … High temperatures (over 90 degrees Fahrenheit) and dry conditions can interrupt this event resulting in significant losses in grain yields and greatly reduced quality of corn silage...”

Looking ahead, Miller said the weather forecast for the month of July is ranked with a higher probability of temperatures greater than normal and precipitation less than normal.

“The corn crop this year is a lot better than last year even though some areas are roughly affected by the drought we have had and low rainfall in the last two months,” area farmer Mike Vecchio notes in a message.

Corn and COVID-19

The coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic is impacting more agriculture sectors than milk producers.

Weather aside, Vecchio is among local farmers who are seeing an impact on corn due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“There are less corn acres this year because ethanol plants are shutting down due to (COVID-19) and decreasing gas prices and corn is used to make ethanol in gas so with those plants shutting down, there is no home for the corn that could have gone there driving corn prices down. As a result of that, farmers planted more soybeans this year as it looks like a somewhat more promising market,” says Vecchio.

The 20-year-old Vecchio just got into farming last year, and rents 50 acres of land to grow corn that will end up in the animal feed market and soybeans. 

“I have had COVID-related impacts by the price of corn going down with the ethanol plants shutting down causing the fall market prices for corn to be low. Seed was on time as always. I plant 35 acres of corn and 20 acres of soybeans,” he adds.

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