Farmers from Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska came together to discuss what’s holding up harvest and potentially stunting yield in their areas. The verdict: excess rainfall, disease and variability.
“I still have some seed corn in the field yet,” said Iowa farmer Tim Recker to AgriTalk Host, Chip Flory. “Guys are harvesting every day and rain really puts a damper on [it], and as we get closer to the frost date they get concerned because corn needs to come out before that hard frost.”
Running against the clock, Recker is working tirelessly to not only get crops out of the ground, but also to re-seed the fields with a rye cover crop. The harvest window is short for seed corn, and getting shorter as rain pounds the Hawkeye State. Despite having “wet feet,” he’s optimistic about soybeans.
“It’s been wet all along, but they [soybeans] look amazing,” Recker said. “But I’m not great at estimating bean yields until the combine eats them up,” he admitted.
In Illinois, Steve Pitstick is less worried about rain delays and more worried about a still-unfamiliar disease tattooing much of his corn: tar spot.
“At first I thought it was blowing in as a one-year occurrence,” Pitstick said.
The first year he saw the disease was in 2016, and it’s gotten progressively worse each year. “It’s almost everywhere—really widespread this year,” he noted.
Infected corn plants lose leaf tissue, and if that happens before grain fill is completed the plant can cannibalize the stalk. “[There’s] a lot of poor quality stalks starting to go down,” Pitstick said.
Fungicides seemed to hold the disease at bay, though they didn’t totally control it. He saw tar spot explode across fields toward the end of the crops’ life cycle, and certain hybrids seemed to handle the disease better. None seemed totally immune.
Planting was challenging for some farmers in Nebraska last spring. Now, Casey Schuhmacher is seeing considerable variability in maturity, but overall soybeans are looking good.
“We have beans that are 50% dropped, others with leaves all the way to the top that are green and haven’t even turned yet,” Schuhmacher said. “[But] our beans are good—the ones we’ve done so far. They’re not wow, central Illinois wow, but they’re good.”
With the best fields yet to come, and corn to finish, he’s looking forward to the rest of harvest.