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First Person Field Report: Minnesota and Iowa

Corn, soybean crops are about two weeks behind normal in southwest Minnesota; northwest Iowa. 

David Hibma was all set to host the Wyffels Corn Strategies Conference on his farm near Brewster, Minnesota July 23. The yard had been mowed, gravel and mulch had been hauled. The place looked great. 

Mother Nature, however, had other plans. 

Vicious winds over the weekend ripped down tents and staging for the annual conference, which was moved into the nearby Worthington Convention Center.

It’s been a wicked year of weather so far for Helba and other farmers in southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa. Fortunately, the wind didn’t blow over Hibma’s corn. But the third generation farmer admits this has been a strange year. 

“I haven’t seen a year like this. My dad hasn’t seen a year like this,” he says. “Nobody has.”

Nobles County, Minnesota

Hibma says his corn crop is about a month behind where it normally would be in late July. He planted corn May 16-17 – two weeks later than usual. 

David Hibma, BrewsterMN
David Hibma
“The corn is just ready to tassel. It should be setting kernels now,” he says. He’s worried about the corn crop maturing before frost. “That’s what I’m worrying about right now. We need more consistent weather to get us to the finish line.” 

Hibma took prevented planting on a large share of acreage intended to corn – “I’ve never had prevent plant acres in my life,” he says - choosing instead to plant soybeans because the corn indemnity paid a bit more.

Normally, he’d be preparing to spray insecticide over the top of the soybean crop, but this year there hasn’t been much insect pressure. Still, they are several weeks behind normal. “I’d call them not quite knee-high, and some are just ready to close the rows,” he says. 

“The beans are okay, I guess," Hibma adds. “For the start we had, and everything that’s been thrown at them, I guess they’re pretty good.”

The Corn Belt

It’s been an unusual year to travel the Corn Belt, adds Brent Tharp, agronomy product training manager for Wyffels Hybrids. 

Tharp travels from the Wyffels home office in Geneseo, Illinois south to Kentucky and northwest to southeast South Dakota. 

Brent Tharp, Wyffels
Brent Tharp
“There’s not a one-size fits all explanation for the 2019 crop,” he admits. “It’s just variable.” 

Throughout his territory, the Iowa crop seems to be in the best shape. In Illinois, later planting will stymie that state’s yield. “Anytime you get a crop planted in June, a lot of things can happen. One of those being, are you going to finish in time. Plus, there is a yield penalty.” 

Even in Iowa, the variability from one field to the next can be extreme. “To me there is a lot of unevenness,” Tharp says. “Even our really good fields, if you go out and look at them, you’ll see a lot of unevenness, and that will take a lot off the yield.” 

At this stage in the season, Tharp anticipates a below-average corn crop throughout this territory, depending on how the year finishes up. 

Fortunately, the crop is relatively free of disease so far, throughout his trade area. 

“There is some gray leaf spot out there, but I haven’t seen it aggressively above the ear leaf. But it’s there and has the potential to spread,” he explains. 

Tharp also cautions farmers to be aware of southern rust. 

Don’t let this year’s erratic weather and slow crop progress prevent you from investing in the crop, he adds. 

“I’d continue to invest in my good, uniform fields. Apply fungicide, or anything we can do to help those fields out,” he says. 

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