Corn surpasses knee-high by the Fourth of July expectation

"A lot of times if you're at knee-high by the Fourth of July you're behind."

Posted: Jul 6, 2021 10:11 AM
Updated: Jul 6, 2021 11:20 AM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY (WLFI) — You've probably heard the saying "knee-high by the Fourth of July" when it comes to crops in Indiana. For years, farmers have used the saying as a way to judge how well the corn is growing.

However, Assistant Professor of Agronomy and Purdue Extension Corn Specialist, Dan Quinn, says it’s an outdated saying.

"A lot of crops are past knee-high by the Fourth of July,” said Quinn. "If you look across the state a lot of crops are getting up to where they're chest high or even taller than myself."

In today's world, Quinn says corn should be past that stage.

"A lot of times if you're at knee-high by the Fourth of July you're behind," said Quinn. “Farmers these days have the ability to plant earlier and they can plant quicker and get those crops in timely."

Delphi Farmer, Brian Scott, agrees.

“It's kind of an outdated saying now,” said Scott. “We could change it to beans and that would be alright."

Scott knows planting dates have moved up and technology has greatly advanced throughout the years. 

"My grandpa used to always say, way back, you would want to get started planting by Memorial Day,” said Scott. “Now we want to be done two or three weeks ahead of that."

Looking at crops across Indiana, Quinn says corn and soybeans are looking good.

"You look at USDA Crop Ratings we're at about three-quarters of the crop is good to excellent, which is really good for this time of year,” said Quinn. “The last five years these are some of the best crop ratings we've had at this specific time period."

According to the USDA Indiana Crop Report released on June 28, 73 percent of corn rated in good to excellent condition.

"We've been pretty fortunate from the standpoint of this state,” said Quinn “We've had a few pockets where we've had these issues but overall the weather has been good and the soil moisture has been good to help that crop get off to a good start"

As for soybeans, Quinn says they're also doing well. 

“Soybeans are pretty similar to corn in the same crop ratings as well,” said Quinn. “We kind of had some dry conditions early and we’re catching a lot of the rains, especially as soybeans start to move into that reproductive stage and they’re starting to flower.”

Quinn says now that the soils are moist again, soybeans are starting to flower and in the next few weeks, corn will begin to tassel.

"With the moisture we've had and the heat we've had those crops are going to start progressing quickly,” said Quinn. “As these crops begin to move into reproductive growth stages that’s when that moisture is so critical.”

Quinn says flooding is always a concern to keep in mind.

“Farmers could potentially be losing some yield potential with that water hanging around in those fields,” said Quinn. “Potentially from root growth or nutrient standpoints, they could harm some of the yield moving forward."

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