Head to the field to see how your crop is shaping up to adjust marketing strategy
Depending on crop maturity, July and August are ideal to estimate corn yields, says Farm Journal Associate Field Agronomist Missy Bauer.
Mark off 1/1,000th of an acre and inspect ears to determine yield.
Yield is based on the number of ears per acre and the size of the ears (number of rows around, kernels long and kernel depth).
In addition to providing preharvest insight, midseason yield estimates help you adjust your marketing plans.
First, evaluate your current marketing plan and estimate how many bushels you feel comfortable marketing prior to harvest. Start with protected bushels. Evaluate your crop insurance levels and actual production history (APH), says Bret Oelke, farm business consultant, Innovus Agra LLC.
“For example, if you estimate 160 bu. production and your APH is 75% of expected bushels, you can comfortably market 120 bu.,” Oelke says. “Using APH lets you market without the worry of Mother Nature or disease and insect catastrophes.”
Second, if yields increase, Oelke suggests revisiting your marketing plan to adjust potential profit.
“For example, if you estimate production at 160 bu., and after scouting and yield checks, it’s 175 bu., this can be a game changer,” Oelke says. “This brings down your cost of production and increases profit potential.”
How to Properly Take Yield Estimates
To determine yield potential, Farm Journal Associate Field Agronomist Missy Bauer suggests these steps:
1. Use a tape measure to mark off 1/1,000th of an acre, which is 17'5" in 30" corn rows.
2. Count the number of corn plants in the measured-off space. Subtract any corn plants that appear unlikely to produce a good harvestable ear.
3. Use stalk diameter and plant spacing to help determine harvestable ears. Do not count stalk diameters that are skinnier than neighboring plants. To evaluate plant spacing, look for double drops or misplaced seeds.
4. Once the number of harvestable ears is determined in the measured-off space, randomly select three to five ears to count rows around and kernels long. Use the formula on the right to arrive at anticipated yields.
5. Be cautious of taking kernel counts too early. Kernels are still subject to abortion before R4.
6. Perform these steps five to 10 times per field depending on size and variability.