Mixed Bag of Crop Results in Corn Illustrated Area

Early returns’ make big yield estimates questionable.

Published on: Sep 10, 2007

By the time this item appears there may be real numbers to report from the Corn Illustrated plots. Current plans are to harvest at least part of the plots within the next week. That could change if rain sets in, but as dry as the soils are, one farmer quipped, "I can probably shell corn unless Noah returns."

Corn Illustrated plots are located in south-central Indiana, on loam soil with three feet to gravel. Irrigated high-yield plots still look respectable, although there was considerable tip dieback of kernels, especially in one hybrid. Early speculation is that high heat levels in August may have affected kernel development, even when sufficient moisture was supplied through irrigation.

Farmers within a 10 mile radius of the plots have begun harvest. Some of them are actually on sandy soils, which the CI plots are not. Others are on similar soils to the CI plots, with perhaps less soil depth to gravel. At any rate, early results from the area are not encouraging.

Corn yields for farmers hauling grain to the local elevator in the area are reportedly peaking in the 80-bushel per acre range, with 50 and 60 bushels per acre reported. Soybean yields around 25 bushels per acre are the norm so far. Seed size on those soybeans is very small. Parts of this area were deficient on moisture all season, and then received virtually no rain from August 1 through Sept. 5. One farmer with a rain gauge in the area recorded a total of 0.4 inches in August. Another a few miles away says he received only 0.15 inch of rain for the entire month. That doesn’t mix too well with the critical period for soybeans, especially when it’s been excruciatingly hot at the same time. Temperatures hit 90 degrees F many times during August, and the mercury was still rising to that level during the first few days of September.

Surprisingly, at least to some, test weight on drought-stricken corn is reasonably good, at 52 to 54 pounds per acre. Dirk Maier, Purdue University grain storage specialist, does not worry about corn from a low test weight standpoint as far as storage and potential for disease spread within the grain in concerned until test weight drops into the 40-49 pound per bushel range.

Moistures are extremely low on some of the droughty corn brought to the elevator so far. Readings straight out of the field of 12% are reported. For soybeans, it’s even worse. One load of soybeans from a field making 24 bushels per acre tested only 7% moisture. That’s well under the limit you’re allowed before dockage is assessed for high moisture content. At such low moisture contents, you’re actually giving away grain because it doesn’t weigh as much as such low moisture levels.

The Corn Illustrated crew still holds out high hopes for breaking 100 bushel per acre on part of the nitrogen study plots, and 200 bushels per acre on irrigated corn in the high yield project. Time will tell. Look for possible results next week. Or if it’s rain you’re still after, you may be happier if Noah does return, and the combine can’t run this week.