With farmers across the Corn Belt staring at green fields, it's no surprise the Farm Progress Show plots won't be ready for harvest demos next week.
Matt Jungmann, Farm Progress national events manager, notes the demo fields were planted May 15. Considering 2011's corn went in on May 11 and was ready by show time, late planting isn't the stumbling block.
"The problem is the cool summer has really hurt us," Jungmann notes. "We'll catch up some this week, but it won't be ready by show time."
At the start of this week, the crop was at the 25% milk line. Jungmann estimates it's about 200 heat units behind normal. WAND17, Decatur's local NBC affiliate, reports this summer is running an average of 11.4 degrees F below normal and 17 inches ahead on rainfall.
"The hybrids we plant at the show site are suited for Wisconsin's climate," Jungmann says. "Unfortunately, we've had Wisconsin's weather."
On the upside, the show's host farmers will be looking to harvest a phenomenal crop in early September. If the forecast for 90-degree F days the next few weeks is correct, host farmer David Brix expects to start harvesting the 96-day corn in about three weeks.
Typically, these shorter-day hybrids struggle to make 160 bushels in Illinois' warmer climate.
"Since we haven't reached black layer, the combines would just turn this crop to mush," Jungmann adds. "These fields have the potential to make over 200 bushels, and that just wouldn't be fair to our host farmers."
While field demos have been called off due to rain, Jungmann notes this is the first time in the show's 60-year history that field demos have been cancelled because the crop wasn't ready.
Big turnout expected
There is a silver lining, notes Dena Morgan, Farm Progress national events marketing specialist.
"This crop is behind for the entire Corn Belt," she says. "It doesn't look like anyone will be harvesting next week. So, we're expecting record crowds."
Most remember 2009 was a late year too. Again, record numbers of farmers turned out to the Farm Progress Show.
With such a large crowd expected, exhibitors will be pulling out all the stops. Morgan notes Case IH has its largest product rollout ever lined up for this year's show.
Lastly, Morgan says the corn crop for Husker Harvest Days is maturing on schedule.
"Nebraska has had a fairly normal summer," Morgan adds. "We'll definitely have mature corn to harvest for field demos at Husker Harvest Days."
Husker Harvest Days run from Sept. 10-12 in Grand Island, Neb. The Farm Progress Show kicks off next Tuesday and runs through Thursday. Visit the website for more information.