From the Rows -- Mark Bernard -- Day 1

August 20, 2012 06:28 PM

From the Rows with Mark Bernard

Day one of the 2012 Midwest Pro Farmer Crop Tour saw our group heading out of Columbus and taking a northwest trek running through such booming metropolises as Mt. Glliam, Wiallrd, Tiffen, Findlay, Ottawa, Van Wert and Bluffton. We covered the counties of Morrow, Crawford, Huron, Seneca, Hancock, Putnam and Van Wert in OH then pulled samples in IN in  Adams and Jay counties. We managed 10 samples in OH and only a couple in IN before we had to pull up anchor for the hotel. We had a mixture of experience in the vehicle today with seasoned veteran Bob Provin from Gibson City IL, Crop Tour returnee Christopher Narayana from NY, NY, Pricila Cardoso originally from Brazil now living in Stamford CT, Daniel Hiller as driver and yours truly.

This is my ninth tour of duty on the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour and the route was a polar opposite from what I’d been on the previous 2 years in OH. Overall crop health was generally okay with minor leaf disease pressure in corn showing up recently in the form of a little gray leaf spot and northern corn leaf blight in the corn. Also some common smut was noted in the most drought stressed corn. Soybean diseases were generally very light. We did note some two-spotted spider mite and bean leaf beetle infestations today complete with live mites and beetles for the viewing pleasure of the riders on our route. There were no few soybean aphids spotted today on the route, something that made me happy as I feared they had followed me from MN to haunt.

One thing that stuck out in the corn fields was the weakness of the ear shanks of the corn, particularly in the areas where the drought had taken the greatest toll on the crop. When we’d pull the ears for a sample, they’d snap off with very little effort, leading one to believe that when the combine rolls through, just touching the stalk with the snouts on the corn head may be enough to dislodge them. The same result could occur prior to that given a strong wind event or two. The result may mean ears not getting into the combine and reducing an already disappointing yield even further.

The maturity of the crop in Ohio this time around was advanced from what we noted last year. On our route we had one corn sample black-layered and the majority of others were half milk line or better. The soybeans followed suit where most of the fields were R5 – R6 maturity. Yields on the corn ranged from a high of 155 in Morrow Co. to a low of 70 in Seneca Co. Bean pod counts were all over the board from a high of 1816 in a 3’ x 3’ in Hancock Co. to a low of 432 in Seneca Co.

Like last year, soil moisture was a major limiting factor. In corn fields as we moved north of Columbus corn became shorter, to the point that we could easily see above it and know where we were going. The stress on the soybeans was less evident. As we’ve seen in the past, they can rope-a-dope it through extreme heat in July and still produce a respectable crop given some timely rains in August. Some of the later maturing corn we bumped into would also benefit from rain and moderate temperatures to finish. Did I mention it was cool and rained while we were having our evening meeting in Fishers IN?

A curiosity that many of the crop scouts had not experienced before was the kernel red streak caused by the wheat curl mite. This mite is very tiny, about 1/100th of an inch in length and feeds on a broad host range including cereals and other grasses. Kernel red streak is common throughout the Corn Belt in some year years and is influenced by and environmental conditions. Typically we’ve noticed it more frequently and with more dramatic symptoms under dry conditions. The mite feeds on leaves early on which causes few symptoms but when it feeds on kernels, the result is the red streaking and sometimes nearly complete reddening of the pericarp. Fortunately kernel red streak does not result in any yield or quality reductions, with the possible exception of cosmetic injury on white food grade corn.

My overall impression of the crop today was that it was about what I expected to see with the possible exception of little crop being harvested other than for silage. There was no crop destroyed on our route today which was slightly unexpected.

Tomorrow we push on through IN and into eastern IL. 

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