Choosing the correct corn hybrid(s) for your farm is the easiest way to gain (or lose) bushels, given you have already optimized most other management practices. In a North Dakota hybrid trial data set from NDSU, there was as much as 88 bushels per acre difference between the top and bottom yielding adapted hybrids at a location, and all hybrids entered were available for seed in that or the following year. If you do the quick math in your head you can quickly see how much choosing the right hybrid impacts profitability at the farm level. (more…)
There is cause for excitement when talking about corn today in North Dakota. We are experiencing what will likely be a state record yield by several bushels per acre, with generally great harvest conditions. In the week ending October 23, 2016, according to USDA crop progress data, we are 39% harvested with corn in North Dakota, behind last year’s pace by 17%. This is very nice progress, however, there are a few issues that have become prominent in the past week that I want to address, namely corn drydown and storage issues.
Black layer is upon or nearing our corn fields throughout North Dakota. Black layer is the physiological indicator at the tip of a corn kernel where the kernel was previously connected to the nutrient and moisture flow of the corn plant. Black layer forms when the hard starch layer has moved to the base of the kernel, and is when the maximum amount of dry weight has accumulated in the kernel.
A novel corn bacterial disease has come to minor prominence in much of the corn growing belt of the United States. This bacterial disease, for now called simply bacterial leaf streak, is not very well understood, as it is newly discovered, first in Nebraska. As of the most recent update the disease has been discovered in 9 states this year (Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas), and not in North Dakota. Our closest confirmed field, as communicated by an SDSU research to Dr. Andrew Friskop, our NDSU cereals plant pathologist, is approximately 90 miles SW of Brookings, SD. The closest Minnesota field in unknown at this time, but I will post an update if I find out.
We are at the time of our growing season for corn and soybeans where scouting insects is important. In corn, we are primarily worried about the corn rootworm species that are prevalent in corn fields that are under certain production parameters, chiefly continuous corn cropping. Dr. Janet Knodel, NDSU extension entomologist, published a concise article about what her team has found thus far this season here: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/cpr/entomology/corn-rootworms-emerging-08-18-16
This week’s crop update will be a mixture of physiology and finding information sources. The corn plant is fascinating, it truly is. Dr. Joe Lauer, corn agronomist at the University of Wisconsin Madison, provides some very nice updates on corn plant physiology, month by month, throughout the growing season. As he has approximately 30 years more experience than I, and has already published his update for August, I want to post that for you all here.
As pollination is finishing throughout the North Dakota corn growing region, we can now make the first estimate of the grain yield potential of a field since the number of ears and number of kernels per ear can be fairly accurately estimated. The only yield component that requires some guess work is kernel size. Of course this whole exercise depends on reasonable growing conditions for the remainder of the season. The process for estimating yield that we describe here is widely used and is proposed due to its simplicity.
It feels as though for the past month North Dakota has being hit by storm chase quality storms. These storms might be fun for storm chasers, however they are very bad news for crops. Different crops react differently to extreme winds that are created by these summer thunderstorms with some being affected greatly while others weather the storm better. The corn plant is a generally tough plant, but can succumb to green snap of the stem under high wind conditions.
Rainfall. Moisture stress. Drought. Excess moisture. What a start to the growing season with regards to corn. We all know corn needs a lot of moisture in order to produce the bushels that we expect from the crop. Corn is also a very efficient water use plant for the amount of grain it produces. However, this growing season has been challenging for corn in some areas due to moisture stress.
At this time of the year it is getting less easy to walk through a corn field due to the height of the crop, however it is still important to be doing so. I want to touch on a precision planting issue today from an agronomic vantage point. It is not too late to take a look at your fields and gauge the final stand, or plant population, that you realized and compare it to the planted seeding rate. While doing so, take careful stock of skips and doubles. At this growth stage it is probably too late to measure emergence, specifically the impact late emerged corn has on the final yield. I cannot offer you any input into the machinery side of this issue, however there are numerous precision planting companies and dealerships who can guide you through this process if you need a change on your farm.