From the Rows with Mark Bernard
Day two of the 2012 Midwest Pro Farmer Crop Tour found us heading north with a crew of 3 that included Jennifer Sumi as driver, John Markwell and yours truly as navigator. There was also a car following today with Chris Brisch and Carl who had defected from the Western Tour. We dead headed from Indianapolis to Marion where we started our sampling. We went from there to Wabash and then on an extremely crooked straight line across to the Illinois border east of Kankakee. Counties we sampled in today in IN included Grant, Wabash, Kosciusko, Marshall, Fulton, Pulaski and Jasper.
Corn yields on today’s route were equally as variable as yesterday’s OH route although the high and low yield on the route weren’t far apart geographically. We recorded a low of 0 in Pulaski Co. and the next sample we pulled was our high at 188 bu./acre on the other side of the county which happened to be in 20" rows. Narrow rows don’t hurt but they don’t make quite that much difference. Neither field was irrigated so it goes to show what a difference a little water at the right time makes. Our corn yield average for the route in IN was 89 bu./acre and on the IL portion of our route, it was 119.
Soybean pod counts in a 3’ x 3’ were extremely variable on our route with a high of 1725 in a sample pulled in Kosciusko with a low of 489 in Pulaski, the same area we recorded the zero on the corn. They were down substantially overall when all routes were averaged and ours was no exception with an average of 990 in the 3’ square in IN and only 780 on the 5 samples we pulled in IL.
Being a bug, weed and disease guy, I was more in my element today. There actually were a few issues today. Not all were serious on our route but they were noticed. On the corn we found gray leaf spot. There was some corn ear worm present in a couple of the samples, making a mess of the ear tips. The reaction from the entire scouting crew to the first big, ugly green worm and the resulting frays was "Gross!" In the soybeans we found the first SDS we’ve seen on this Crop Tour in Kankakee Co., IL. One other crop scout found some today as well so as dry as it’s been, this disease has still not gone away.
The bad signs continued to show up in the corn today in the form of weak ear shanks as well as some fields where the integrity of the stalks was beginning to be an issue. The last field we sampled in Mclean Co., traditionally one of Illinois’ best corn growing counties was nearly mature. However when we made our way into the field we were breaking stalks over left and right. The cannibalization that occurred has likely set this crop up for some harvestability issues. Letting corn dry in the field in situations like this may end up being extremely costly, especially should a wet windy spell were suddenly to appear.
Something that we might’ve expected to see would be some aspergillis flavus, the fungi that causes aflatoxin. This fungus is thermotolerant and tends to show up when we have drought conditions such as those common during the drought of ’88. Insect damage predisposes the ears to infection. Plants that have been stressed in drought conditions such as we’ve had are more likely to be infected. The speaker from Pioneer the previous night had indicated that it was present in southern IN but the drought conditions there were even more severe than what we’ve been seeing. Let’s hope we don’t see it as it’s just one more potential headache farmers will have to put up with an already problematic crop.
Time to hit the hay and get ready to sample our way to IA City.