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Corn Harvest Predictions

00:00AM Sep 09, 2008
Sara Muri, AgWeb Crops Online Editor
Overall, the U.S. corn crop is behind. According to the USDA's weekly crop report, by Sept. 7, normally 79% of the crop is dented and 28% mature. That's in a normal year. Currently, 62% of U.S. corn is dented and only 11% mature. Yet, almost half, 44%, of the crop received a "good” crop condition rating. But these numbers are only part of the story.
Indiana: Corn Crop is a ‘Mixed Bag'
Bob Nielsen, Indiana extension corn specialist, says variability is common across Indiana. "The crop is really a mixed bag,” he says. "Everything is all over the board on yield potential. We will be lucky to even hit trend yields this year.”
Due to late planting, corn is one or two weeks behind normal, Nielsen says. "The delayed planting, combined with reasonably cool weather in June and August has really slowed things down.”
He says the biggest issues for producers are the effects of the delayed planting and the likelihood of corn not maturing and being harvested before a killing frost.
Nielsen says one lucky area for corn producers in his state is the reasonably minor insect pressure this year.
But, disease potential is still a possibility. "The fear monger this year is stalk rot,” he says. Since August was a stressful month on the corn end, the crop is more vulnerable to this type of disease.
South Dakota: Hoping for a Late Frost
"The corn crop is looking pretty good, but we are concerned about the development of the crop,” says Bob Hall, extension agronomist at South Dakota State University. "We are just holding our breath.”
Hall says the crop needs heat units, and it hasn't been getting them the last few weeks. "You really need warm nights to generate heat units, and it has been getting down in the 40s and 50s lately.”
Warmer weather would also be welcome during harvest. Hall predicts harvest should begin in a few weeks and says with high energy prices, higher temperatures would aid the grain-drying process.
"We're hoping the weather will cooperate for dry-down in the field,” he says. "Then farmers can minimize the amount of energy needed to dry the crop after harvest.”
Minnesota: Wishing for Optimal Harvest Conditions
Corn in Minnesota had a strong start according to Jeff Coulter, extension agronomist at the University of Minnesota. During silking, soil moisture was favorable and positive temperatures created little stress.
"However, it has been quite dry during grain fill throughout much of the state,” he says. "This will result in lower grain yields than previously anticipated in early August.”
Unfavorable weather at planting time delayed getting corn in the ground, which, as a result, will push harvesting back on the calendar.
"Much of the corn in southern Minnesota is expected to reach physiological maturity around Sept. 20, but harvest will probably not get underway until at least Oct. 5,” Coulter says. "In central and northern Minnesota, much of the corn will not reach physiological maturity until the last few days of September, so a lot of this corn may be above 20% moisture until mid-October.”
With cooler temperatures, as of late, Coulter says farmers need to hope fall weather will cooperate and allow sufficient time for field work.
Kansas: Cruising Toward Harvest 
Beginning in the next couple weeks, combines in Kansas will begin harvest. Kraig Roozeboom, state crop production/cropping systems specialist at Kansas State University, says the corn crop in his state is "in pretty good shape.”
 "We're predicting better-than-average yields in central and eastern Kansas,” he says.
While planting was delayed in some areas, Roozeboom says most of the corn crop is in normal development. "We are a little behind, but nothing drastic.”
He says the biggest impact the delayed planting has had is increased disease pressure. Roozeboom says they have seen more southern rust and grey leaf spot this year.
For More Information
Freeze/Frost Maps, courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Read AgWeb's Crop Comments for more corn reports across the country.

You can e-mail Sara Muri at