The USDA crop report is important. But it's not the only thing that should be weighing on producer's minds right now. It's one thing to have the corn crop out there, somewhere, if it doesn't seem to be in abundance on your farm. It's another to know if it will reach maturity, and wheat moisture content will be at harvest.
For many days this summer when corn needed temperatures of 85 degrees plus to move steadily toward maturity, heat units were a bit shy. That may have aided pollination for corps pollinating during the period, but it did little for corn planted late that wasn't near that stage yet. Many fields pollinated in late July to early August. That's a two-to-three week setback from when corn typically pollinates across the Corn Belt. The biggest delay was in the Eastern Corn Belt, where soils remained wet most of the spring, delaying planting until late dates for corn.
Dave Nanda, Bird hybrids, Tiffin, Ohio, believes corn that was finishing pollinating by August 6th or 7th should reach physiological maturity without a problem. That assumes 50 more days of growing season, plus some heat during the period. That roughly pushes he window before a killing frost to around October 1. The date for the average killing frost across most of Indiana is after that period.
State of maturity of the corn crop isn't much different than it was a year ago. However, last year, a warm, dry August and warm weather that extended well into October, while not at record levels as it did in '07, but still at sufficient levels to aid maturity, helped prevent wet corn at harvest. This year, without a repeat of such conditions, which aren't in the current forecast, there could be plenty of wet corn to handle at harvest, Nanda says.
As long as corn reaches black layer, the true sign of physiological maturity, drying will help remove moisture levels to safe, storable amounts. It's just a matter of how long it takes to dry it, and what it costs to take so many points of moisture out of wet corn. However, if corn doesn't make black layer before a killing frost shuts it down, then it's much more difficult to handle. Grain will likely be of lower quality, with low test weight.