08-26-2011 03:27 PM - edited 08-27-2011 09:24 AM
Just finished a 1,200 mile tour of the Corn Belt, from central Iowa to southern Indiana. Was trying to look at a range of issues, and certainly not expecting to make any predictions on the size of the crops. Part of the idea was to talk with farmers about how the crop was shaping up at this point.
Some initial impressions include:
* There is probably some value in doing your own yield estimates--even with the considerable limitations in accuracy. (But, isn't that true of all these forecasts?)
* It's the year of the tipped-back ear.
* The variability in quality, even within fields, is especially striking this year.
* Many farmers are taking at least 20 bushels off their average yields.
* Some big differences are shaping up between fall-applied, spring-, and split-applied N, given the weather this year. One side of the road is dark green, the other is yellow.
* Goss's wilt may be the plant problem of the year.
The first photo below shows a corn sample pulled in eastern Illinois--not too shabby, but always the tipped-back ear. The farmer and I estimated a 175 bu/ac for this field, using the Yield Component Method.
Beans might be looking better. At least they were on the Tom Mylet farm in central Indiana. Inspecting the crop is Ashlie Kolb, a guest host for Agriculture.com.
I'd be interested if you can confirm some of my impressions.... A quick tour slideshow here: Counting Kernels
08-26-2011 04:49 PM
In NC Ia if you average 200 normally, this yr it`ll be 160-170, less on sand. Beans have a lot of pods and the potential for 50, if we get a inch or 2 of rain in the next week, or else it could be nasty. Sprayed 2nd flush of aphids, little disease so far knock on wood.
08-27-2011 09:19 AM
John, you look WAY different in the big picture, your avitar doesn't do you justice LOL
Anyway, locally, it is going to be very hard to get a good yield estimate.
I furrow irrigate, and walk corn rows almost every day. What I have noticed:
The cooler weather lately has added girth to the ear, but the tip-back is way too common. I walked into the field yesterday in several places. I'd go 50 steps, then start counting ears. I'd open ears 10, 20, and 30. Everything from an ear filled in so good, the ends of the husk are being parted by the kernels at the tip, to 3 inches of tip-back, often in the same row of the same field.
Moisture is not an issue on this field, I furrow irrigate, and even the steepest part of the hill on the thinnest soil showed no curl on the hottest days. I do have a little bit of a new variety planted that must either have great heat stress tolerance, or pollenated at the right time, 90% of the ears are filled almost to the very tip, just wish I planted more of it.
The pivot irrigated field still has the tip back, but it is more consistant, probably 1-1.5 inches on most ears. This helps (in my mind anyway) that the water sprinkling from above helps 'cool' a field. However, when it is hot, dry, and windy, it is harder for the pivot to get enough water to the roots compared to the furrow irrigated field. Yields should be comparable.
I quit fall fertilizer application long ago, and never regretted it.
This year, I went with a split application, put on roughly 60% at planting, 40% side-dressed. I'm impressed enough that I plan to do it again next year. The hillsides with thin soil greened up and look as good as the rest of the field, which usually isn't the case. I predict my yields to be average for me, about 165-170 or so, but there is a lot of variability in the field, which means maybe I should guess it from 155-175 or so, more likely to find a way smal ear rather than way big one. Most of my corn isn't denting yet, so good weather from here out could still do a lot of good.
08-27-2011 06:22 PM
Nebrfarmr sounds like you could have a decent crop AND high prices this year! I was just at a local field day yesterday and some farmers are comparing our areas early planted corn to corn raised in 1988. Its a little scary my 103 day corn planted the 1st week of May should be ready to harvest in the next couple weeks..... The corn is dented and the stalks are starting to turn from charred to harvest brown LOL. Soybeans here are doing very well though.
08-27-2011 09:53 PM
On a drive from Iowa City to Des Moines Saturday, fields are starting to show signs of stress. Some firing where the soil is light. The beans sure need some rain, and we have not been getting it. It might be too late for the corn, but I'd be willing to take some rain anyway.
08-28-2011 07:11 AM
What a difference 5 weeks can be. After only .7" rain in June we have had 8.6" since July 18. The corn probably got most of it a little late for a normal yield but the beans should be very good, even above average. The guys who tilled ground instead of no tilling have spotty stands however from uneven emergence due to no or little rain after planting. During our main planting window here this year June 3 to June 15 or so we had temps in the high 80s to mid 90s and some days of high SW winds that dried out the ground something awful as soon as it was opened up. I planted for 3 days starting with the driest fields and continuing to wetter ones. I stopped for 2 days to let the ground drying catch up to me planting. Cudda shudda wudda kept right on planting if I knew then what I know now. There may be as much as a 10 bpa difference the 1st palnted field vs. the last one. All due to more moisture present in the ground at planting for germination.
08-28-2011 11:03 AM - edited 08-28-2011 11:22 AM
I'm not sure about that "ear" to the right. Looks empty and like it's been depleted.
As for tip back reports on your tour, I want to encourage your tour participants that it could be much worse. We had 115 degree heat during polination and 25-65 mph winds. Less than 2.5 inches of rain has fallen since planting in May, most with .20 showers.