Hot or cold; too much rain or too little. That's all important information for corn farmers to know. But University of Illinois researchers say what really matters to the crops are growing degrees.
Growing degrees are an accumulation of daily average temperature readings greater than 50 degrees, beginning when a crop is planted. For example, if each day of the week had an average daily temperature of 55 degrees, that week accumulated 35 growing degrees -- 5 degrees each day for seven days.
Crop scientist Emerson Nafziger says keeping tabs on growing degrees helps farmers better predict when corn will pollinate and mature, providing an indication of when it will be ready to harvest.
He says watching growing degrees also can help farmers track the development of insects so they know the best time to apply pesticide.