From the Rows, Day 3: Problems Hamper Record Corn Crop Aspirations - Emily Carolan (Western leg)

August 25, 2016 07:36 AM
Dickinson County, Iowa

From the Rows - Emily Carolan - Western Tour Day 3

"When a crop has been put through the ringer with problem after problem, how can it be a record crop?" asked a new crop scout touring the US crop for the first time from Australia, Kieren, put today into perspective during his scout report tonight in Spencer City. One comment he made was the wheat crop in Australia is going to be a record crop but, they have had absolutely no issues - unlike the U.S corn crop. This really puts it in perspective that if you're going to have a record crop, you can't have problems like we did.

Now- this is not to say we did not see a good crop today. Even with higher GDUs from normal, the crop is right where it needs to be for maturity. From what growers told us this is because the crop planted mid-April came up only a few days before the crop planted early May. Seed sat in the ground for over 3 weeks in some areas and the late April cold rains increased the inconsistency of plant emergence. Even though a few may come up around 48 hours after the others, this set those plants back 2-3 growth stages plants. In return it caused it to become a 'weed' later in the season, taking nutrients away from the grain producing plants.

Let's talk about June. It was a hard month for growers in Western Iowa after the cold rains during planting as rains were far apart and the temperatures were above normal during the day. This was a red flag for the crop because this is when plants are determining kernel rows around and kernel length per ear. A high-stress index during this time will limit the plant to develop its full potential of kernels per plant. Even if the next three months were the best growing conditions those plants could expect, the kernel count wouldn't change because the cobs never made enough spots for a higher kernel count. When this is determined, there is no going back -- but we can make up lost kernels in other places later in the season with reasonable heat and also a good grain fill period.

Another noticeable variable was the storm damage we encountered early in the day. If it wasn't damage from high winds from last night, it was damage from earlier in the season, most likely from the July 7th wind storm that also took out many plants along our routes through Nebraska. Greensnap was the culprit in pulling down our ear populations.. This brought down our routes' ear count, along with the 'weeds' from late emergers early in the season.

Now- we have been in better corn than yesterday in Nebraska. Many routes saw multiple 200 bushel fields and reported good health throughout their routes. The whole tour has been clean for disease with little insect pressure. The weeds are a different issue though. Even though the waterhemp did not seem as tall today as what we saw in Nebraska, I think it will in the next couple of weeks in Iowa. In fields where we thought weed pressure was limited, you would walk into a bean field and start to see smaller waterhemp peak out between the rows. Even though I don't think this is going to affect yield this year, it will make it a larger issue next year and control will have to come earlier in the season.
Once again, storm damage was more widespread today in Nebraska. Storms that passed through the areas this year seemed to hit more surface space than what was expected and that happened a couple times this year. The storm last night that went through Omaha and Nebraska City also roughed up the beans with heavy downpours amounting to 3-7 inches in places coupled with winds up to 70 MPH. I think they will stand back up judging by their maturity,but some lodging may cause pod fill to slow down depending, of course, on the weather. Pod counts were steady and show promise if the right weather patterns help finish what is set up to be a good yield.

I can't believe I'm saying it, but tomorrow is our last day on the Tour. It has been a great time through the three states and I'm looking forward to what Minnesota's crop has to offer.

Follow #pftour16 Leaders Chip Flory and Brian Grete, as well as Consultants Mark Bernard and Emily Carolan on Twitter. Follow Julianne Johnston for official Tour results.

Additional Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour information is available on


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