Knee High by the 4th of July

Monday, July 4, 2016
By: Kris Norwood, Crop Science, a Division of Bayer, Communications
Knee High By The Fourth Of July


An old farming saying – “knee high by the 4th of July” – indicates an important benchmark for growers to determine if they have a good corn crop.


Genetic improvements in corn over the years and earlier planting mean that often corn can be much taller than “knee high” by early July, but the adage is still a good general rule of thumb.


U.S. Corn Status

(source USDA), as of June 27, 2016

- 100 percent planted
- 75 percent in “good” to “excellent” condition
- 20 percent in “fair” condition
- 5 percent in “poor” or “very poor” condition

Below are a few photos (gathered during the last two weeks of June) of the 2016 corn crop:


Peter Comis, Bayer Field Sales Rep in corn field in Price, North Dakota

Peter Comis, Bayer Field Sales Representative, shows corn a little better than “knee high” as he stands in a corn field in Price, North Dakota.

Corn farm located outside of Longmont, Colorado

Jake Walker, Bayer Field Sales Representative, sends us two photos of corn from the Front Range of Colorado – from a farm located outside of Longmont, Colorado.

Colorado corn field that was hit by a hail storm

This second photo from Jake is from the same farm in Longmont, Colorado, but this one shows a field that was hit the previous night by a hail storm. It highlights one of the many challenges of farming on the High Plains, Jake notes.

Reinbeck, Iowa, corn clean rows after post-emergence herbicide

The above photo was from a field day in Reinbeck, Iowa, showing corn towering above clean rows after a post-emergence herbicide was applied to a test plot.

What’s Next for Corn? Praying for Rain


USDA crop progress reports (as of June 27) show that 6 percent of corn is already at “silking” stage – the beginning of corn pollination and a critical period for corn.


“Probably 50 percent minimum of your yield is determined at pollination,” notes Mike Weber, Bayer Technical Service Representative. “Typically a silk is 99 percent moisture. The silk is full of water, which helps it to catch pollen that drops from the very top of the tassel of the corn plant, to become fertilized and to form the kernel.


“So moisture is very important,” Mike explains. “If you’re under super dry, drought conditions during pollination, that’s not good. That’s why you’ll hear on the news that farmers are praying for rain.”


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