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Don't Bank on a Bin-Buster Just Yet -- Agronomist

Jeff Caldwell 08/06/2014 @ 9:46am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Though the marketplace and much of the agronomy community have their sights set on a bin-buster of a corn crop this year because of largely positive crop weather, one agronomist said recently a monster crop may not be a foregone conclusion just yet.

June saw about average rainfall, but July was fairly dry across many points in the nation's center, like Bill Wiebold's state of Missouri. The University of Missouri agronomist says because of that, yield projections this early in the growing season may not be entirely accurate, especially if they come in on the high side.

"I don't want to be Doctor Doom, but you must be cautious in estimating yields on how the crop looks now," Wiebold says in a university report. "You can't see yields and won't know until harvest."

While he does admit the crop "looks good" right now, the lighter-than-normal July rainfall after an average July could mean grain fill could fall short, especially considering the rapid, solid vegetative growth earlier in the growing season. And, despite some accounts earlier on that indicated fields may have received enough rain early in the year to sustain corn plants through to the reproductive stages and beyond, Wiebold says rain's still critical in July and beyond.

"Corn needs rain in July. Three quarters of an inch won't do it, no matter how deep your soils," he says. "If forecasts for rain come true, this warning can be forgotten."

But, just as many other agronomists have speculated through the cooler-than-normal last few weeks, temperatures this year are likely to ease the crop's rainfall needs...just not eliminate those needs altogether.

“We were headed to extremely large yields. If lack of rain cut yields 10%, Missouri farmers can still have record crops -- if we get rains now," Wiebold says. "“There are a lot of days left for kernel fill, if we get the rain."

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