Question Will Be Kernel Fill At This Point

CROP WATCH: Dry weather and lack of nitrogen may combine to knock off top end of yield.

Published on: Sep 2, 2013

The Crop Watch '13 field is certainly showing signs of nitrogen deficiency. We reported that last week. Purdue University Extension agronomist Bob Nielsen says it is likely a combination of borderline N rate for a high yield, plus the dry weather.

If the roots can't get to the N, then the deficiency symptoms will show up even if there is N in the soil. This was the case in 2012, but to a much more extreme degree. In this case, in this field at least, the plants had the N they needed when they made key decisions earlier in the season. The main loss was when they started aborting fertilized tip kernels as it dried out and the plant needed more N.

Nielsen says the plants likely took N from lower leaves to finish kernels, and aborted the tip kernels. That's because the tip kernels are fertilized last, and the plant can sense it no longer has good enough conditions to finish all the kernels.

CROP WATCH: Dry weather and lack of nitrogen may combine to knock off top end of yield.
CROP WATCH: Dry weather and lack of nitrogen may combine to knock off top end of yield.

Speaking of 2012, let's clear up some confusion. Apparently some people read into last week's crop watch item. The yield in the Crop Watch'12 field a year ago was 55 bushels per acre. Parts made nearly nothing, and parts yielded over 100 bushels per acre, averaging out to 55 bushels per acre.

This particular column, if you're just browsing, is all about what is happening in one field we watch all season. The goal is to see what's happening there, and then see if the same thing is happening elsewhere. If it is, then it is something you need to know more about.

When we said "yield will be three times what it was in 2012," that referred strictly to the Crop Watch '13 field, not to state or any other averages.

Dry weather and nitrogen deficiency may set an upper limit on the Crop Watch 13 field.
Dry weather and nitrogen deficiency may set an upper limit on the Crop Watch '13 field.

We still believe it will be three times higher in this field vs. '12. Our yield estimate was about 185 bushels per acre after taking stand counts in the Crop Watch '13 field. Even accounting for some slippage due to poor conditions as of late, it could still yield 165 bushels per acre, which would be three times the yield of the field we followed last year.

Obviously, state and national averages will be higher this year, but only be a percentage, certainly not three times. We apologize if you misinterpreted the intent.

By the way, if you want to win free seed for 2014 from Seed Consultants, Inc., look for the entry blanks in the September issue. Entries are due October 15. Simply guess the yield (average) of this year's Crop Watch '13 field.