Corn Yields Continue to Impress

CORN ILLUSTRATED: The dry August apparently didn't cut yields much after all, or did it?

Published on: Oct 15, 2013

It's hard to weigh out 207 bushels of dry corn from a field, per acre, and still feel a bit disappointed. The 'per acre' is necessary because last year 207 bushels might have been the whole field! So how could you feel disappointed with that kind of yield?

Maybe disappointment isn't the right word. But Dave Nanda, director of genetics and technology for Seed Consultants, Inc., says it's all about what might have been.

The field he examined that made 207 bushels per acre had blank tips, sometimes long blank tips. Yet the corn rolled out like every ear was filled to the end.

"Think what we would have had if it had rained an inch or more in August and there was more nitrogen on the field," he says. "It would have pushed 240 bushels per acre easily."

Good corn, but could it have been better? Probably, but its hard to argue with 200 bushels per acre plus, especially after 50 to 60 bushel per acre yields in 2012.
Good corn, but could it have been better? Probably, but it's hard to argue with 200 bushels per acre plus, especially after 50 to 60 bushel per acre yields in 2012.

Would have, could have, should have – it's still hard to be disappointed with more than 200 bushels per acre. Even Nanda will admit that.

"We're seeing what modern genetics can do when we get a decent year," he says. "Conditions were good for corn right up until the end of grain fill. Apparently the dry weather didn't cause plants to pull much out of plump kernels that formed when it was cooler and there was more moisture. It did abort kernels, but that's what a corn plant does. Its goal is to make as many viable seeds as it can. So if it is running short on something, it stops making the last kernels pollinated so it's sure that the other kernels will still be as plump as possible. The plant doesn't know you won't be planting the kernels for seed."

Stalks in some fields were weak by early October, even though there was no stalk rot in the field. It's likely the plant also pulled some nutrients from the stalks to finish making good ears.