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The latest look at corn progress
Even though it may feel like summer just started, fall harvest is right around the corner in the Corn Belt. Combines are already running in the southeast. That puts the combines not far south of the Corn Belt, where farmers say they'll be rolling in the next 2 weeks.
- See more early harvest progress & yield reports
"We had a 4-inch rain the first week of August, and unfortunately, it didn't help the corn as much as I thought it would," Boone, Iowa, farmer Kelley Kokemiller said Monday morning. "We'll have an average crop, not much above. The beans look pretty good. That big rain probably helped the beans more."
Kokemiller's got fairly even corn and soybean stands this year unlike last year, he says. But, that's about where the general stand trend ends as you move from west to east in the Corn Belt. In eastern Iowa, there's been a lot of variability in stands in the 10 counties Iowa State University Extension agronomist Jim Fawcett covers.
"The corn wasn't hurt so much at pollination, but the heat and dry weather have taken a toll. I've seen some corn that will likely yield 150 bushels [per acre] or less in fields that should be going 200," Fawcett said Monday morning. There's a lot of variability. Some fields look better from the road than they really are."
"We had a lot of heat in July during pollinating and a lot of ears are only half full of kernels, so as you walk across field ears vary so much it’s hard to tell what it will do for sure," Clementz said Sunday. "I have some heavy, low ground that we feel will make around 90 bushels [per acre] while our better ground is hopefully going to do around 150 bushels."
Now, head southeast from Geneseo to Mount Pulaski, Illinois where Doug Martin farms. He's had extreme variability in his fields this year, as yields have tracked specifically where the rains have fallen in what's been a very dry year. That means he suspects there will be some triple-digit yield variability once he starts harvesting corn, which will likely begin in the next week or so.
"Last week, we had some corn testing in the upper 20s and lower 30s [moisture]," Martin says. "As we continue to examine some of our fields, we are finding decent corn where there was rain. I think we will have 100-bushel swings between fields this year and they could be within a mile or two of each other."
But, it hasn't just been bad weather that's hit this year's corn crop. A few diseases -- some of which that have been causing trouble throughout much of the growing season -- are perking up now and taking more yield potential. In central and eastern Iowa, it's Physoderma brown spot (shown here), Goss's Wilt and gray leaf spot, Kokemiller and Fawcett say.
"Every year it seems like the genetics get better and better," says Matthew Walsh. Like a lot of farmers, the Walsh family faced an abnormal growing season--late planting, heavy late spring rains, then hot and dry. But, the last several weeks have brought favorable weather, including eight inches of rain since July 23.
One of Mylet’s best fields, a well tiled fine silty soil, usually will yield in the neighborhood of the “low teens,” he said. But 200-plus bushels isn’t in the cards for the corn-on-corn crop there this year. He and a local seed company representative, Woody Nichols, checked the field with Agriculture.com and made an estimate of 161 bushels. “It will be less than that when you take out the 2% of the field that was washed out in the spring,” he said.
The combines are rolling hard in the deep- and mid-South. Soybean farmers like Crawford Logan and George Cunningham near Tchula, Mississippi, are finding dryland bean yields between 18 and 30 bu/ac and irrigated yields just over 60 bu/ac, according to Jimmy Sanders, Inc., crop adviser Patrick Johnson.
The University of Illinois Plant Clinic has been a busy place as farmers there get ready for harvest. This year's been a big one for corn and soybean diseases that thrive in dry, hot conditions, namely Goss's wilt, charcoal rot and phytopthra root rot, according to Stephanie Porter, diagnostician at the U of I Plant Clinic.
Photos & information from John Walter.