Western Iowa Yields 'Consistently Inconsistent'

November 7, 2013 02:00 AM
Western Iowa Yields 'Consistently Inconsistent'

As farmers race against Mother Nature to finish harvest, they're finding that corn and soybean yields are both a mixed bag.

It was a race against Mother Nature this week, as farmers tried to beat the rain that set in Tuesday. When asked about the weather extremes they’ve seen this year, the farmers AgDay talked with described their year and yields "consistently inconsistent."

"We’re seeing extreme yield variability," says Wayne Martin who farms in Shelby, Iowa.
Both Doug Holliday and Martin farm in western Iowa, about 90 miles apart. While yields differ greatly from both of their farms, overall, they say corn yields are down.

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"Of course I like to set my sights high," says Martin. "I hoping for a 200 (bushel per acre) average, but I don’t think that will be attainable this year."

"The field that we’re standing in is a 197 APH (Actual Production History), and it’s running 126 (bushels per acre) today," says Holliday.

Soybeans, on the other hand, are a mixed bag.

"The beans are all in the high 20s and in the 30s, where we normally run in the low 50s," says Holliday.

"The bean yields were a shock," says Martin. "We did not expect to see this. The field averages were in the 50s and 60s, so very pleasant surprise.

It was a rough year from the start. What started off cool and wet, meant farmers couldn’t get in the field to plant.

"There was a little window around Memorial Day, we planted some soybeans, then everything else had to be planted in June," says Holliday.

But then, Mother Nature shut the water off.

"The rain turned off in mid-June, and we had four tenths until August," says Holliday.

And that’s when both farmers knew their yield was on the line. A cool spell mid-summer is what Martin hoped would save his yields from the drought. But instead, it stripped more of his corn yield away.

"There is a hormonal change in that corn plant, and when it’s shooting ears, it cannot tolerate a cold snap," explains Martin.

You’re looking at rosette ear syndrome. Martin says the cool weather right before pollination made the perfect recipe for this. It’s where up to five ears grow in the same spot, and kernels are hard to come by. Martin says that’s creating even more yield variability, and pulling his overall numbers down.

"It has led to places in the field that may only be yielding 20, and then not too far away, the corn may be yielding 280," says Martin.

Another extreme is the crop moisture.

"Running anywhere from 21 to 30 percent moisture in the later planted corn," says Holliday. "It’s just not drying down."

"The moisture is running between 18 and 21 percent, and it’s been that way for three weeks, it’s not dried down a bit," says Martin.

With corn moisture not dwindling much in the field, many farmers in the area are forced to dry their crop. That’s creating another problem. Propane shortages are making that input a pricey, hot commodity.

Weather delays combined with high moisture crops, means harvest is progressing slowly on this side of the state.


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