Farm Horizons, November 2007

Early harvest observations

By Dave Schwartz

Harvest is just getting underway across Minnesota as I write this article. While traveling across the countryside and visiting with growers, I have noticed a few trends.

• Manured fields with high soil fertility survived the drought better. It certainly appears that manured fields were able to withstand moisture stress better than other fields in the neighborhood.

Is it economical to build up soil fertility into the very high range given the high cost of fertilizer? Look for answers at farm meetings this winter to address this issue.

• Corn rootworm beetles were back in high numbers this year and caused considerable yield loss. I noticed corn rootworm beetles everywhere this fall, including our house.

Sept. 16, I noticed nine northern corn rootworm beetles in our kitchen window on the south side of the house. They were also present in my raspberries and nearly every corn field I entered late this summer.

Evidently, corn rootworms are adapting to the corn/soybean rotation that has been used for many years in much of southern Minnesota. This is apparent in much of southern Minnesota where strong winds in August and September caused widespread stalk lodging.

• Corn-on-corn was disappointing for growers in much of the the Farm Horizon distribution area. Corn yields were depressed across this area due to the dry and extremely warm weather. Corn fields that followed corn, it appears, were hit much harder by the droughty weather. I anticipate growers will concentrate their corn-on-corn acres next year on their best land to reduce stress on the crop.

• Soybean acreage may increase next year due to disappointing corn/corn yields, high fertilizer cost, and a strong soybean market.

Fertilizer prices are up approximately 35 percent from last year. Farmers should be able to contract 2008 beans for $8.50 to $9 per bushel, so it’s likely this scenario may push soybean acres up.

Wheat, the forgotten third crop, will play a more significant role in 2008, so it will be interesting to see the outcome.

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