Crop Update for July

July 15, 2022

There are all kinds of cool things happening in farm fields around us. July is the month for lots of activity among the growing crops in DeKalb County. As you pass by fields you will probably see some of these same scenes.

Farmers typically harvest wheat in mid-July. The wheat is a golden color and is harvested by a combine. About 4,000 acres of winter wheat are grown and harvested in DeKalb County. It is the county’s third largest crop. The wheat plant head is used primarily for foods and the rest of the wheat plant is used for straw by livestock.
Alfalfa hay is cut and baled throughout the summer. July is typically when farmers get a second cutting of hay. Hay is used for livestock feed. Both hay and straw can be baled into square bales or round bales. After wheat harvest, what remains of the crop is baled into straw and used by livestock for bedding and roughage.
When you see corn tasseling pollination begins. Pollen shed typically begins once the tassel is completely emerged and open and lasts about 5-8 days. The tassel is the male part of the corn, the ear shoot is the female part. The tassel sheds pollen, the ear shoot produces silks. When a viable pollen grain falls on a fresh silk, fertilization occurs and kernels are formed on the ear. When pollination is complete the silks turn brown. Corn is a self-pollinating plant.
Farmers and agribusiness companies use machine sprayers to apply crop protectants to their corn and soybean fields. The sprayers are much higher than the plants and go between the rows to apply liquid herbicides, pesticides, and even nitrogen to the crops. Spraying maintains crop health and typically provides better yields.