Farm Horizons, November 2010

Near-perfect growing season

By Dave Schwartz
Gold Country Seed Soybean Product Manager/Agronomist

Most growers in the area had high expectations for the 2010 crop, given what most would consider a nearly perfect growing season.

Early planting dates are part of the yield equation and nearly all of the corn was planted by May 1. We hit a cold, rainy period that began May 2, delaying soybean planting a few days, but most of the soybean crop was planted by May 20. So both corn and soybeans were planted under near ideal conditions.

May, June, and July provided timely rainfall and above-normal temperatures, so crop growth conditions through Aug. 1 were great. The month of August turned very warm.

Readers may recall the warm humid nights in August and most likely, higher electric bills, due to running air conditioners nearly constantly through the entire month. Soybean plants handled the heat relatively well.

In fact, it was a blessing or we may have seen nearly all soybean fields infested with white mold. The conditions were ripe for white mold with plants lodging and lots of humidity. The missing component was cooler air temperatures. (White mold is a fungus disease that needs cooler air temperatures to infect soybean blossoms.)

White mold was more of an issue in the very northern counties, but in Wright and neighboring counties, white mold was not a big factor. The result was exceptional soybean yields, most likely the best soybean crop growers have ever harvested.

Corn yields suffered somewhat in August during the grain fill period. Corn plants prefer cooler temperatures during this, what corn breeders consider, the most critical period of a corn plants’ development.

Early yield reports are very favorable though and test weight is above normal, so we have been blessed with another nice crop and a favorable grain market.

If my memory is correct, we experienced our last major rainfall Thursday, Sept. 23. In the Litchfield area, we received approximately 3 inches over a 12-hour period.

As I write this article, we have had no significant rainfall since, so fields are drying out nicely for harvest and fall tillage. This may create an opportunity for growers to break up some of the soil compaction created by wet fall harvest and tillage last year.

Researchers have found soil compaction can be broken up by tilling relatively dry soil down to a depth of 12 inches. The research points to no advantage to tilling more than 12 inches deep.

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