Watch Your Fields Closely During Pollination

CROP WATCH: Silk clipping is something you can control.

Published on: Jul 22, 2013

You can't control when your corn pollinates. If it pollinated last week during the hottest week of the year, that's out of your control. Take solace in the fact that "hot" is relative. Compared to last year, it was a warm day at the beach for this year's corn compared to the corn that baked in fields without moisture a year ago.

This isn't saying pollination won't be affected at all or that it wouldn't be better to have a cooler week to pollinate. But it is saying that pollinating when it's 100-plus degrees every day and soils are bone dry is totally different than pollinating in low-90s temps with humidity and still some moisture in the soil.

Silk clipping is something you can control.
Silk clipping is something you can control.

There is one factor you can do something about. That's scouting to make sure beetles don't clip silks in your fields. You could wind up with silk clipping due to rootworm beetles or Japanese beetles, or a few other lesser-known pests.

The rule of thumb is that if silks are clipped within one-half inch of the tip of the ear, pollinating is still happening and there are beetles present. An insecticide is often justified. Refer to exact threshold for number of insects per plant that it takes before the insecticide is likely to pay for itself. These are available from your Extension ag educator.

The Crop Watch field is pollinating as you read this. It's imperative to scout it over the next several days to make sure beetles aren't clipping silks back short enough to do damage. And I don't mean just walking along the edge of the field or only in one spot – although it's tempting because the corn is tall and it's hot. Instead, check different areas of the field in case rootworm beetles might be congregating in one place or another.

Scout to make sure beetles dont clip silks in your fields.
Scout to make sure beetles don't clip silks in your fields.