Nitrogen Shortage May Cap Yields on Crop Watch '13 Field

CROP WATCH: Field should still yield above state and national average.

Published on: Aug 26, 2013

Yield checks in the Crop Watch '13 field this week indicated yields will be good, but maybe not as good as hoped. Still, look for an average more than three times higher than last year, and likely above USDA's August estimates for Indiana, and trend yield for Indiana.

To get some feel for what is in the field, I did three check spots, picked at random, walking in from 125 to 250 feet from the north end of the field. So it's not a foolproof estimate. I did not check the south end, which isn't easily accessible by driveway.

At each site I counted off ears in one/one-thousandth acre, 17 feet, five inches in 30-inch rows, and took separate checks on the rows on both sides. To be fair, I pulled the 5th, 12th and 20th ear from the north end of the check strip each time.

Thick stands: Most spots had around or just above 30,000 ears per acre. Reduced tip fill took of the top end of yield.
Thick stands: Most spots had around or just above 30,000 ears per acre. Reduced tip fill took of the top end of yield.

Remember that USDA ag statistics enumerators only do two plots per field. However, they get their accuracy by repeating it in a couple hundred fields over the state. They're trying to get a handle on the state yield, not an individual field yield.

What I found was yields pushing toward 200 bushels, but mostly falling short. Individual rows ran from a low of 174.5, using the standard formula and dividing by 90 as the correction factor, to 203 bushels per acre. The average within the field, not counting ends rows, was 189 bushels per acre. If that's off 20% either way, that's somewhere between 170 and 207 bushels per acre.

Remember, that's three different spots along the width of the field on one end. It still isn't fair to say it represents the whole field.

Keep that in mind when you're preparing your official entry for the Crop Watch '13 contest, you can win valuable seed prizes for 2014 from Seed Consultants, Inc. Top prize will be worth around $1,500 or more in free seed.

Look for the entry blank in the August and September issues of Indiana Prairie Farmer. Due date is Oct.15, but don't put it off until you get into harvest. You can also enter by email at See the entry form to see what information you need to include besides your guess of average yield for this field, at number #2, corrected for moisture.