Forget "Knee-High By Fourth Of July", Head-High Is New Norm

Jul 5, 2016

Purdue University researcher Bob Nielsen says a majority of Indiana's 2016 corn crop is maturing as expected in early July -- like Cass County field where he scouted just before the Fourth.
Credit Bob Nielsen / Purdue University

They say that Indiana corn should be knee-high by the fourth of July.

With changes in how we farm, that isn't really true these days -- but agronomists do say the crop is on track for a strong 2016 harvest.

The self-titled "corn guy" of Purdue University, Bob Nielsen, says the Cass County cornfield where he was scouting a few days before the holiday looked green and healthy -- though:

"It's not knee-high by the fourth of July -- it's head-high," he says.

In the past few decades, he says, seed companies have created corn hybrids that farmers can plant earlier in the year, in cooler weather.

"That means we have this huge solar factory, if you will, out here on these longest days of the year, capturing all this sunlight," he says. "It simply allows it to produce more yield than it used to."

It also means the corn is taller by Independence Day.

Back in April, the USDA predicted Indiana would grow about 3 percent more corn this year than last. Nielsen says the corn crop is still on track for that increase, despite a rainy start to the season that delayed some planting.

He expects most of the corn will start flowering by late July -- which is pretty close to normal.