2019 harvest if winding down for some and completed for the fortunate. Once the equipment is put away and you’ve had a chance to catch your breath, what’s next? Everyone’s favorite—Yield Data. Yield data is a vital tool we can use to learn about our acres every year. Managing and working our way through isn’t always easy, especially when we remember all the situations our crop went through this past year. Here are some tips when interpreting your yield data and what we should and shouldn’t do based on the information.
Remember what your crop went through this past season. Every growing season is different, and hybrids respond differently to different growing environments.
This year the products that performed well across your acres might not have performed like they did last year.
Planting delays and marginal planting conditions affected both corn and soybeans final stands. Many fields I scouted throughout the year had 10-25% less stand due to planting conditions this spring. Uneven emergence was common to see in most corn fields too.
Weed control was more difficult this year due to wet conditions in late May and into June. Crop protection applications were delayed and sometimes not able to be made when they were needed.
Early season nitrogen was very difficult to monitor and manage due to saturated fields. Nitrogen deficiency was very prevalent across the western corn belt. Where side-dressing was warranted, field conditions didn’t allow them to happen in a timely fashion.
The crop progression throughout the year was slowed due to the lack of heat units, and sunlight causing harvest to be delayed and fuller season products to not dry down. Waiting to harvest these products added to the harvest loss potential on both corn and soybeans.
Late season nitrogen deficiency was evident, especially where stalk nitrate samples were taken. Too much rain this year caused leaching and denitrification of the Nitrogen and the corn plants couldn’t produce up to their potential.
What decisions can the yield data from this year help me make?
Comparing varieties in the same field is a great way to compare two products.
Comparing products that are in two different fields can be tricky, especially when each field potentially had different conditions throughout the year.
Looking at overall performance of products over multiple fields and growing conditions will help give you a better picture of the performance of the product.
Compare your results to third party trials that were in your area to look for any trends. http://therightseed.com/yield-data/3rd-party-trial-performance/156
No one knows your fields better than you do and using this data over multiple years will assist you in your decision making.
What are the chances that your highest yielding product will be your best product next year? Research shows less than a 25% chance.
Don’t switch your maturity drastically based on one year of data. Look at trends over the past couple of years on product maturity for your fields.
If you have any questions or need any help reading your data, please call your local Hoegemeyer agronomist and we will be glad to help.
Be sure to check out our plot results at: http://therightseed.com/yield-data/plot-results/114
Eric Solberg, Eastern Product Agronomist
The Midwest has recently experienced a massive blast of cold weather from the north the week of November 11. Fortunately, warmer weather has returned, harvest is finishing up and field work has been getting done in many areas. Getting the discing, strip tilling, and ripping done is a good feeling but when the equipment is back in the shed for the year we need to get one more project completed - soil sampling! There are a few ways to manage soil sampling depending on how much you want to invest and how much time you have before winter sets in and the ground freezes. The two best options would be to do it yourself based on management zones or hire someone to grid sample.
You can either hire someone to collect soil samples or you can do it yourself. If you are well acquainted with a particular piece of dirt, you can save yourself some money and get quality soil samples yourself. All you need is a shovel, bucket, paper lunch bags, and a pen. For example, a grower that has been farming a particular farm for many years and is well aware of areas in the field which are excellent, fair, and poor (sloped, level, rocky, fertile, drained, wet, etc.) These are called management units. This farmer has established 5 management units (3 to 6 recommended) on this field because of previous knowledge of his farm. The farmer takes 15 random soil samples to a depth of 8 inches in one management unit with his shovel, mixes them together in his bucket, then labels and fills one paper bag with that soil sample. This process is duplicated across all management units, and bags are then sent to the nearest laboratory for analysis and fertilizer recommendation.
For more precise soil samples, grid sampling can be done to provide better information on soil variability throughout a field. Many growers are reluctant to spend many hours getting down and dirty in a field to grid sample the entire field with 1-acre samples. Who can blame them as this is a tedious process which requires an elaborate computer program, a handheld GPS unit, and pulling many soil cores which a farmer would rather let an agronomist do. Grid sampling done for optimum accuracy includes 1-acre samples, 2.5-acre samples are acceptable, and 4-acre grid samples are done at more economical prices with reasonable results. When a grid sample is done, 5-8 core samples should be pulled at 6-8 inches per sample. This data can provide a good map for many years; 10 – 20 years for organic matter and CEC; 5 – 10 years for pH; and 5 years for P, K, and Zinc. Include these grid samples into a GPS unit, along with previous years yield data, to create a precise fertilization and planting population program to maximize yield and efficiency on a farm.
The way you get the sample isn’t near as important as getting the sample. Soil samples will let us know what nutrients we are short on including Phosphorus, Zinc, Sulfur, Potassium, and many more depending on where your farm is located. Soil samples will also tell us pH so we know whether or not lime is needed to correct low pH issues. Get your soil sampling done while the weather is nice and spend the cold winter months coming up with a fertilizer plan to maximize profitability next summer with Hoegemeyer products. Contact your local Hoegemeyer DSM or Agronomist with any questions.
-Craig Langemeier, Western Product Agronomist
Corn maturity may be delayed by late planting and/or below normal summer temperatures. When slow corn development continues into the fall, corn grain may be significantly wetter at harvest. This can result in higher drying costs, mechanical damage to grain, and if a killing frost occurs before corn reaches maturity, yield reductions.
Because GDU accumulation in early to mid-May is like GDU accumulation in late September when corn is maturing, each day of planting delay could result in a commensurate 1-day delay in maturity. However, corn can adjust to late planting by reducing its total GDU requirement slightly, by about 5 GDUs for each day planting is delayed beyond May 1. This means that corn maturity is usually delayed by only about 1 day for each 1.5 days of planting delay.
A Cool and Cloudy Summer
“Cool” or “moderate” summer temperatures are rarely more than 1 or 2 degrees below normal when considering the entire summer period. Such conditions would result in a deficit of 90 to 180 GDUs that has to be made up in late summer/early fall. This would result in about a 1- to 2-week delay in corn maturity in the central Corn Belt, and up to 3 weeks in northern corn-growing areas.
The period from black layer to harvest is defined as the "drydown" period. Kernel moisture loss during the drydown period is entirely due to evaporative moisture loss affected by air temperature, relative humidity and wind. When corn reaches maturity late in the season, field drydown is slower due to cooler air temperatures. For example, according to Ohio State University Extension, corn drying rates of 1% per day in September will usually drop to 1/2% to 3/4% by early to mid-October 1/4% to 1/2% per day by late October to early November, and only 1/4% or less by mid-November (Thomison, 2011).
Corteva Agriscience™ research indicates that it takes approximately 15 to 20 GDUs to lower grain moisture each point from 30% down to 25%, 20 to 25 GDUs per point of drydown from 25% to 22%, and 25 to 30 GDUs per point from 22% to 20% (Corteva Agriscience™, unpublished). If a hard freeze occurs that stops corn development prior to maturity, these field drying rates may be affected. For example, corn frosted as early as the dough stage may require 4 to 9 extra days to reach the same harvest moisture as corn not frosted (Maier and Parsons, 1996).
Grain moisture at harvest affects the time and cost required to dry the grain to acceptable storage moisture levels, as well as grain quality. Wet grain can incur damage during combining, handling and drying. If grain quality is significantly reduced during harvest and drying, allowable storage time is also reduced, dockage may result, and losses of fines and broken kernels can trim bushels of saleable grain.
In seasons with delayed corn crop development, many growers will have to deal with wetter than normal grain at harvest. Several steps can be taken prior to harvest to make this job go more smoothly (Lauer 2009).
If you have recorded silking dates by field, use these notes to predict the order in which fields will reach black layer and harvestable moisture. This will help in setting up a harvest schedule. However, be sure to base the schedule on crop condition as well as grain moisture, considering stalk quality and insect or disease damage.
Where such options exist locally, consider harvesting (or selling) more of your crop as silage or high moisture corn.
Explore locking in a price for the additional fuel needed for grain drying. Compare the fuel costs vs. possible dockage for shrink if wet corn is delivered to the elevator.
Consider some field drying if grain moisture levels are high, but don’t wait too long! Wet field conditions can keep combines out of the field as crops deteriorate, and snow and ice may increase harvest losses due to ear droppage and stalk breakage.
Managing Wet/Immature Corn
Combine Adjustments: Grain above 30% moisture can be difficult to remove from the cob and is easily cracked and damaged by overthreshing in the cylinder or rotor of the combine. Cylinder/rotor speed and concave clearance are the adjustments most critical to reduce grain damage and threshing losses. At high grain moisture growers may have to strike a balance between damaged grain and higher than normal grain loss from unshelled cobs.
With very wet grain, some ag engineers suggest beginning harvest with combine settings that would likely underthresh a typical, lower moisture crop (Brook and Harrigan, 1997):
Set cylinder/rotor speed near the low end of the suggested range.
Set concave clearance near the widest recommended setting.
Open the chaffer and sieve to the maximum recommended openings.
Check with the combine manufacturer for machine-specific recommendations. (Combine mechanics or other dealership staff are often a good source for this information).
Begin with above settings but check immediately and readjust as necessary to achieve best results. Continue to check and readjust as crop conditions change.
Drying Wet/Immature Corn
Properly drying very wet, lower quality corn is essential to avoid further quality reductions. Growers should screen lower quality grain prior to drying, using a rotary screen, gravity screen or perforated auger housing section. This will help prevent foreign material and broken kernel fragments (or "fines") from blocking air flow essential to uniform grain drying and storage. Next, growers should plan to dry lower quality grain 1 or 2 points lower than the normal 14% to 15% often recommended for long-term storage. This is because of greater variations of moisture content within the grain mass and increased physical kernel damage and broken cobs, which could magnify mold problems.
According to extension specialists at North Dakota State University, energy efficiency is increased at maximum temperatures in high temperature drying systems, but these temperatures could scorch very wet or immature kernels. In addition, high temperature drying causes stress cracks in the kernel, which allows more breakage during handling and storage. The amount of stress cracking depends on initial grain moisture, rate of moisture removal, maximum grain temperature reached in the dryer, and rate of grain cooling. Therefore, drying temperatures need to be limited on corn of 25% to 30% moisture content (or higher).
With natural-air or low-temperature drying systems it will be difficult to adequately dry corn wetter than 26% grain moisture. The maximum moisture content for natural air drying of corn is 21% using an airflow rate of at least 1 cubic foot per minute per bushel of corn (Hellevang, 2009).
The University of Wisconsin gives these additional grain drying tips (Lauer, 2009):
Fine-tune your dryer so that over- or underdrying does not occur. Overheating the grain in the dryer or filling the bin too fast for drying to occur will increase costs and decrease grain quality, thus reducing profitability.
Hire and train the skilled labor that will be required to monitor dryers, fans, augers, and other equipment during the drying process.
To reduce drying time and speed harvest, some growers have discussed partially drying and aerating corn while holding it for further drying after completion of harvest. This strategy requires skill and intensive management, especially with low-quality grain.
Storing Wet/Immature Corn
Low test weight, lower quality grain is harder to store because it is breakage-prone and subject to mold and "hot spot" occurrence in the bin. Because the storage life of this grain may be only half that of normal corn at the same moisture content, consider selling this grain early rather than storing long term.
To minimize storage problems, begin by screen-cleaning grain before binning to remove as much of the fine material, cob pieces and broken kernels as possible. After filling, "core" the bin (remove up to 10% of the total bin capacity) to eliminate broken kernels and fines that accumulate in the center. Next, level the grain in the bin to minimize moisture accumulation at the top of the grain. Finally, cool grain as soon as it is dry to within 10 degrees of air temperature and continue to aerate for 10 to 14 days to ensure grain moisture "equilibrium" has been achieved.
Monitoring lower quality grain on a twice-monthly basis is essential to ensure that grain condition is maintained.
Harvesting wet/immature corn can be frustrating and hard. Follow your experience and a few of these tips to help you manage through this situation. Harvest is a long but rewarding time of year, work steady and slow, but most importantly be safe. As always, please reach out to your Hoegemeyer agronomist with any questions.
-Stuart Carlson, SouthernProduct Agronomist
Brook, R. and T. Harrigan, 1997. Harvesting and handling high moisture, frost-damaged grain. Harvest Alert Fact Sheet #5. Field Crops Team, Michigan State University.
Hellevang, K. 2009. NDSU Extension Service to provide corn drying information at Big Iron. North Dakota State University Extension Service News Release.
Lauer, J. 2004. Guidelines for handling corn damaged by frost prior to grain maturity. In Issues in Agriculture. University of Wisconsin Extension.
Lauer, J. 2009. Will corn mature in 2009? Agronomy Advice – Field Crops 28:491-70. University of Wisconsin Extension.
Maier, D. and Parsons, S. 1996. Harvesting, drying, and storing frost-damaged corn and soybeans. Grain Quality Task Force Fact Sheet #27. Purdue University.
Thomison, P. 2011. Corn drydown: what to expect? Crop Observation and Recommendation Newsletter 2011:34. Ohio State University Extension.
Steve Butzen, Agronomy Information Consultant, Pioneer, Johnston, Iowa.
2019 brought us many adverse environmental conditions:
We started with a challenging planting season. Continuous rain events caused most farmers to begin corn planting much later than normal. We also saw cooler temperatures well into May causing soils to stay below our planting temperatures targets.
Cloudy weather accompanied all the rain. Solar radiation was limited with all the clouds which had adverse effects on our plants.
Tillage and no-till programs were far from perfect. Ground was worked wet or no-till planted into wet ground which created compaction and sidewall smearing.
Most of our fertility programs were compromised. Many growers did not get the desired amount of fertility on the fields and what was put on may have been unavailable as nitrogen and sulfur ended up deep in the soil profile, out of reach from corn roots.
The first-choice chemical program either wasn’t applied or had to be changed because of the weather creating weedy fields.
When summer came most of the Western Corn Belt continued to receive plenty of rain which was a good short-term fix to the problems stated above. The corn that did get planted grew and looked good, covering up most of the problems we had created. Even though the plants were put under an extreme amount of stress, they did everything they could to produce an ear. The ability to put on that ear may come with a price though, the plant may have had to cannibalize itself to finish out that ear.
As we look to start combining corn, harvest plans need to be made based on field evaluations. Stalk and root rots are hard to predict as one field may develop a problem while the next does not. Similarly, certain parts of the field can be affected worse than others as well. Some hybrids are more resistant then others, but if the environment is right, rots can show up in every hybrid.
As the plant undergoes stress, photosynthesis slows down causing irregular growth patterns, irregular ear development of kernel abortion and ear tip back. Stress will also cause the sugar production to slow down during grain fill resulting in sugars being taken away from the roots, stalks and ear shanks.
Stalk and root lodging is caused by four major events:
Severe weather – high winds and heavy rain can cause stalks and roots to bend and break.
Insect feeding – insects can pierce the stalk and leaves to cause a weak point introducing disease.
Saturated soils – the excess amount of rain caused soils to remain saturated all year long and created shallow roots giving the plant less stability as it grew.
Stalk and root rots – the environment was a perfect storm to create many different types of stalk and root rots. Figure 1 is an example of a Fusarium crown rot while Figure 2 is an example of Fusarium stalk rot.
It is important growers create a plan of which corn fields to harvest first. Scouting should occur any time after pollination by walking into the field well past the end rows and choosing at least ten locations with different environments in that same field. Different environments can consist of soil types, hybrid changes, fertility zones, and slope of the ground. Evaluate plants by using the push test (stand next to the plant and extend your arm straight out) or the pinch test (pinch the plant in several locations from ground level to the ear) to identify stalk integrity.
If you find trouble spots, first identify how widespread the trouble spots are showing in the field and second prioritize the severity. As always, if you have any questions give your Hoegemeyer team a call.
We hope you have a safe 2019 harvest!
-Stuart Carlson, Northern Product Agronomist