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Corn Status

July 19, 2011 1 comment

We’re somewhere around the midway mark for the 2011 growing season. Every season has challenges, and this one has been no different. Unlike last year, we did not get the crop planted very early in this area. Most of the month of April was lost to excessive rain, and we had a lot of stop and go in May. After a stretch of good weather towards the end of the month, we did finally get everything planted. The month of June was pretty good growing weather, and aside from some concerns about a lack of rainfall in July, I was really pleased with the way the crop was developing. Until about 8am on July 11.

We had a very large derecho blow through the area with straight line winds upwards of 70mph. A lot of corn fields experience some degree of root lodging. In the field above, the rows of the non-Bt refuge corn was severely lodged, while the rows of corn that contained Bt genes for corn rootworm resistance remained mostly upright. I don’t think this issue was as much to do with the lack of rootworm resistance as it was simply due to a difference in hybrids; the hybrid being used for refuge in this field is known for being a little weak in the roots, and susceptible to root lodging.

Root lodging

What was of greater concern to me was the amount of greensnap I found in some fields.

When corn greensnaps like this, it doesn’t grow back. This will be a dead plant. Sometimes, the stalk will bend over and pinch itself off; plants like this will also usually die. If you have 10% greensnap in a field, you have 10% less yield. Some fields in the area had spots of 30% greensnap. Not good; when these same fields looked amazing just before the storm…there was some really high yield potential in this area. Not as much, anymore.

Remember my concern about lack of rainfall? This huge storm that blew through left us a quarter inch of rain or less. An insult. That’s about the sum total of the rainfall I’ve had in July. The corn here is now tasselling, the temperature is 95 degrees, and we haven’t had any significant rainfall in a month. Corn trying to pollinate under severe heat and moisture stress is not a good thing. Overnight temperatures in the 80s are also not good for corn; it needs a chance to breathe at night. Pollination while being blowtorched by this week of 90 degree temperatures will reduce yields further.

There’s still the potential for a decent, if not spectacular crop, but we really need a rain this week. It’s a typical farmer thing: we complain about too much rain in the spring, and then turn right around and bitch about lack of rain in the summer.

Categories: Agriculture, Weather Tags: , ,