Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour: Did You Hear That?

September 2, 2009 07:00 PM

Heard during the 2010 Crop Tour:

Crop Tour 911:
After a flat tire, keys locked in a car and a search for a lost scout in a thick eastern Iowa corn field, we're thinking it's time to start a dispatch to handle some of these situations! Our lost scout—after 20 minutes spent looking for power lines, a waterway or a road and listening for a passing car or horn blast—made his way to the field's edge, where the landowner spotted him. Then (get this!), the scout presented the three sample ears he had carried on the walkabout.

Buzz in the air: The sound heard in some heavily Japanese beetle–infested soybean fields on the eastern leg of the Crop Tour. Another reason for the buzz: the hundreds of wind turbines across the Corn Belt. While some isolated pest problems were noted, both the corn and soybean crops are enjoying another bug-free summer, thanks to excellent pest management and a growing population of aerial applicators.

Whopper: Not the sandwich from Burger King. The best way to describe some of the corn samples pulled from Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska corn fields.

Green snap and lodging:
Condition noted through the eastern and northern Iowa corn crop after heavy summer winds took some plants off. The corn crop in western Iowa, irrigated Nebraska fields and a few Minnesota spots also must avoid heavy winds. Ear set on several fields is 6 feet off the ground.

Mid-October—or later:
We heard that a lot on the 2009 Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour. That's the date the most immature crops in the eastern Corn Belt must get to without a killing freeze in order to reach the yield potential measured on the Crop Tour. In Iowa, north of I-80, and into Minnesota, it's similar, but not as severe. Maybe Oct. 1.

Ol' 10-incher: Not the ear length measured on this year's Crop Tour. Instead, the amount of rain received in northern Indiana the evening of Aug. 17 and morning of Aug. 18. But a handful of 10-inch ears from dryland corn fields in Nebraska did make it into this year's sampling.

Slurrpop: The suctionlike sound made when soybean plants were pulled from heavily saturated soils in northern Indiana.

End rows: What Tour scouts get past to eliminate impacts of compaction, but that are getting wider each year with larger equipment.

Hot spot: Typically a term used to describe evening entertainment, but for crop scouts it often means you stumbled onto an area with a high level of aphid infestation.

Aphid goo: The stuff that sticks to your skin, clothes, etc., from being in fields with high aphid populations.

Detour tension: Condition created when road closures force scouts to divert from their previously scheduled routes during road destruction season and the condition sometimes can affect the same route multiple times.

The Club: That's the nickname we gave some of those 8-, 9- and even 10-inch ears we pulled on dryland fields in Nebraska. An Iowa scout traveling in far southeast Nebraska was holding three big ears and speculated, "Those'll make the combine bark this fall."

Mud: Attached to nearly every portion of a scout, scout vehicle and considerable portions of the hotel entrance on the final day of the Tour, adding several pounds to each vehicle.

Route report anxiety: The condition created when scouts are preparing to deliver a recap to several hundred evening meeting attendees on what they saw and found. Condition is most severe in rookie scouts. Each evening volunteer scouts deliver the most important information of the evening... a detailed summary of crop conditions they saw that day. This is what growers from the local area show up to hear at each Pioneer-sponsored evening meeting.

Pollen itch: Condition created when scouts encounter still-pollen-shedding corn fields sampled on the Tour. When Tour directors hear scouts describing the symptoms of pollen itch, we're quick to identify where these late-developing corn fields were visited.

Green Index:
That's how most crop scouts rate the corn crop on a scale of 1 (totally green) to 5 (burnt up). Each corn sample includes this rating to help "force" scouts to pay close attention to overall plant health as they make their way into a field. Now, insect resistant corn plants are staying much greener, much longer into the growing season, effectively lengthening the growing season. The ability of plants to continue to capture the suns energy deep into September is the primary reason 60-lb. test weights have become a "new norm."

Population and singulation: It means high plant populations with each plant supporting a single, well developed ear do better. There's lots of talk in the market place about this year's corn crop having an abnormal number of double-eared stalks. VERY rarely does the second ear on a corn plant add much to each acres bushel count. If the second ear is well developed, it's usually in a low plant population field, or in a row with several planter skips.

POP: Short for population. And the high ear population in the western Corn Belt is the short answer to explain some really awesome yield potential.

A heartbreaker: there was more hail damage in parts of Iowa than most scouts had ever seen before. The sample from this Calhoun Co., Iowa, field scored a bin busting 225 bu./acre, but it will fall far below that. Ears exhibited significant kernel damage and the leaves were stripped.

Soybean diseases: Though not terribly widespread, there were reports of soybean sudden death syndrome and leaf spot. White mold was very present in south central Minnesota.

Top Producer, September 2009

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