'All Systems Go' For Good Yield

Search for a smaller plant takes time.

Published on: Jun 18, 2013

The Crop Watch '13 field is about where it was at this time last year – all systems go for high yield. There are two key differences, however. The plants are not as mature as a year ago because it was planted later, although still in a good window, on May 2. And there is plenty of moisture in the soil. By this time last year red flags were starting to go up.

This year you actually have to look for smaller plants in this field. Most are at the V6 to V7 stage. In some fields that were worked conventionally and worked wet, the patterns are already obvious, even though there has been ample moisture so far.

Soil compaction is showing up, causing yellowish corn and the tall corn, short corn syndrome. In some fields the pattern that the ground was worked on the first trip across the field is apparent. Scientists say most of the soil compaction is caused on the first trip across a field when soils aren't dry enough yet.

Size difference: These two plants came from the same field. The vast majority of the field looks like the robust plant with the bigger root system. The smaller plant is healthy, just shorter with fewer roots.
Size difference: These two plants came from the same field. The vast majority of the field looks like the robust plant with the bigger root system. The smaller plant is healthy, just shorter with fewer roots.

In this field there are no streaks or patterns so far. On a couple rises, there are plants that are shorter, but it's only in a few spots. They have the same number of leaves exposed, but they're shorter, the stalk diameter is much smaller, and the root system is about half the size of most of the plants growing within the field.

Whether these results are from soil compaction or some other cause is hard to say. The soil didn't seem unusually hard. But it was on spots which would be more subject to soil erosion because of the type of soil.

Whether it affects yield of these plants or not may depend upon weather conditions later in the season. If it continues to rain at regular intervals, soil compaction may not be much of an issue. If it turns dry, it could become an issue, but more likely in fields showing the obvious effects of soil compaction already.