Mississippi has generally been blessed with plentiful rainfall and favorable corn growing conditions until this point. In fact, many growers have not even turned on a well. However, summer-time conditions are now prompting some to make difficult irrigation decisions as their corn approaches physiological maturity.
As the corn crop nears maturity, knowing when you can safely terminate irrigation timing, while optimizing kernel development and yield potential is likely the most important management decision you will face. In order to make this decision, you need to be able to estimate when the crop will reach maturity relative to how much moisture is present in your soil profile. Both crop maturity and soil moisture reserves must be assessed to make a prudent decision. Improper timing will either limit yield potential or unnecessarily waste money and labor. Fortunately, we can outline the steps needed to help make this process accurate and reliable.
Corn kernels continue to gain size and weight until physiological maturity, so you need to make sure to not terminate management early when stress will limit grain fill. Luckily, as kernels progress through the latter stages approaching maturity, there is a method to definitively monitor development.