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An 'interesting' corn year
Wide yield windows
Aaron Steffen, a Cropsey, Illinois corn/soybean farmer & area crop adviser, describes this year’s harvest as "interesting. For corn, I hope to have a 120 bu/acre farm average this year. That’s well below previous years. The rain just shut off in June and that hurt us,” he says. Steffen says he has seen yields in the same field run from 224 bushels per acre to as low as 44-bushels per acre. Within 4 miles of each other, he has seen field averages between 87-150 bushels per acre.
According to Tuesday's USDA Crop Weather report, 53% of the Illinois corn crop is in good-to-excellent condition, compared to 66% in that category nationwide. Based on USDA's data, Minnesota's got the best corn crop so far, with 85% rated good to excellent as of Sunday.
A tough go for corn-on-corn
Steffen says corn-on-corn fields in central Illinois took a beating because nitrogen got caught up in unbroken stalks from last fall or this spring. As a crop adviser, he is noticing the "racehorse" corn varieties, bred to raise high-yielding crops, were stunted by the dry weather. Meanwhile, the "defensive" varieties, bred to withstand harsher conditions, have performed much better.
Region-wide yields down
Lower-than-expected corn yields continue to plague farmers in the Corn Belt. In north-central Iowa, Agriculture.com Crop Talk member petasucks says he and other farmers in his area are "very disappointed. It really looked like 180 bushel-per-acre corn going through the combine, but the ears were small and it just didn't fi
Steffen says it’s clear the ears on this year’s cornstalks have suffered from abortion. In this 115-acre field on the Ford/Livingston County, Illinois, line, the sizes of the ears vary. But, overall, there is a lot of tip-backed corn. “Not all of my corn is like this, but you do see a lot of this in this area,” Steffen says. Like the varieties, the variability in ear-length is noticeable.
Cooked corn in the Plains
Outside the Corn Belt, in the Plains states, farmers are seeing similarly disappointing corn yields, largely because of adverse summer weather. "Yields are down in southwest Kansas; some fields are still doing well, but the average will not come close to last year's," says Farmersforthefuture.com member and southwest Kansas farmer, Nick. "The 5 weeks of 100-degree weather took its tol
'Chia Pet' corn
Because the grain is being harvested at such dry levels, Illinois farmers are seeing a lot of combine "head-loss." The kernels are so dry, they are flaking off the cob at impact of the combine head landing on the ground. Since corn harvest started early and a few rain event have occurred, the volunteer corn is popping up in great numbers. “I’ve seen some fields look like 'Chia Pets,' the volunteer corn growth is so bad,” Steffen says.
Good harvest weather ahead
Looking ahead, dry conditions will characterize the weather conditions in most of the nation's midsection for the next week to 10 days, allowing what should be huge harvest strides, according to Freese-Notis Weather, Inc. "We would look for the national corn harvest to be 36% to 40% done for next Monday's report, with the soybean harvest at 34% to 38% done," according to Freese-Notis on Tuesday. "For the week after that, I think tha