Dealing with the Weather and Unharvested Crops

Source: Penn State Extension (Edited)

WHAT A FALL!!!  According to the November 26 Crop Weather Report, approximately 14% of corn and 10% of beans still in the field.  The average moisture content of corn harvested last week was 17 percent and the average for soybeans was 16 percent, how big of a concern is this?

The weather continues to be unpredictable and give challenges to operators with grain and crops still in the field. Snow and ice over the last couple weeks have just been the latest in a long list of hurdles that growers have had to overcome this season. With some careful thought and planning you can still have a successfully harvest.

Having corn in the field now can be a double-edged sword. The longer it stays out, the dryer the corn will be when harvested, thus decreasing your drying costs. However, there is a higher risk of yield loss the longer the corn stays unharvested. Research on winter corn drydown showed that over a five-year span, corn grain would lose roughly 40% of its moisture between the months of October and December, when left in the field. The tradeoff is that we cannot anticipate the weather. The same study found that a single year yield decreased by 45% and another year decreased by only 5%.

Another concern of unharvested corn could be disease and mold. When discussing disease and mold, snow and ice pose no more danger to your crop than rain does. A positive of this situation is that the lower temperatures could have a limiting effect on pathogens’ ability to incubate or develop. A drawback of having laying snow is an increased opportunity for lodging. This year we have already seen a lot of lodging due to stem rots and adding snow to the mix may increase this risk. The risk of lodging is even further increased when coupled with winter winds and snow and ice to come. The takeaway is that disease and mold issues should not be your largest concern right now.

If you have a large amount of stock rot and lodging, harvesting as soon as possible will be best for a successful harvest. If your corn crop has lodged, one thing to remember is that this is not a usual harvest. Special consideration and care must be taken to get acceptable yields, which means slowing down and using caution. A few other options you have for getting a better harvestable yield are combining in the opposite direction, or “against the grain.” This will allow the head to get under the crop and lift it up. Another option is to use a corn reel. A corn reel is a specialized piece of equipment that mounts on the top of your corn head and uses rotating hooks to lift the corn and allow the head to get under the lodged crop.

The last concern is compaction and rutting of fields … Who Doesn’t Have Compaction Issues This Year??  Compaction will linger for years and will require attention to avoid problems with next year’s crop.

 

Variable Rate Corn Seeding Considerations

Source: Alexander Lindsey, Peter Thomison, Emerson Nafziger

As producers are planning their seed needs for next year, it is important to think about acreage, hybrids, and seeding rates. Finding the best corn seeding rate is important for efficient production, but the “optimum” corn seeding rate – the one that maximizes profitability – can vary within and among fields with small differences in soils and weather. While adoption of variable rate technology is increasing, there are still questions related to how this technology will impact seeding rates, profitability, and be impacted by yield level compared to using a uniform (or fixed) seeding rate with modern hybrids. In order to help estimate the profitability of variable rate corn seeding in the US Corn Belt, we used results of 93 seeding rate trials in Ohio (2012-2016) to see how variable the response to seeding rates was, and to see if factors like yield level might help us do a better job of setting plant populations.

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2018 Ohio Corn Performance Test Preliminary Results Now Available On-Line

Results from the 2018 Ohio Corn Performance Test are now available on line at:  http://oardc.osu.edu/corntrials

Single and multi-year agronomic data is currently available for the Southwest / West Central and North Central / Northeast regions. Upper Sandusky will be harvested when field conditions allow. Results for Upper Sandusky and the Northwest region summary will be updated immediately after harvest. The results can be accessed by following the links on the left side of the page.  Information regarding the growing season, evaluation procedures and traits will be available soon.  Additional hybrids will be added as soon as marketing information becomes available, as will the combined regional tables (which are especially helpful in assessing hybrid performance across locations).

(More) Wet Weather Ahead

Source: Jim Noel (edited)

The weather pattern will support wet weather into the middle of November with a series of storms now every several days. With clay type soils and reduced evaporation this could lead to standing water in fields in the next few weeks. We expect a wet weather system for the middle of this week followed by another next week.

November will be marked with above normal rainfall and temperatures trending from near normal to above or much above normal for the second half of the month.

Rainfall for the next two weeks will average 2-4 inches across the state with isolated higher totals in the south and east sections. A few spots in the northwest sections may be below 2 inches. This is above normal in all areas of the state though and much above normal in eastern and southern sections. See attached graphic for the two week rainfall outlook from NOAA/NWS/OHRFC.

The pattern remains in place with overall wetter conditions into December (though the second half of November may dry out some). It still appears January into February and possibly March will experience normal or slightly below normal rainfall before more wet weather returns sometime in April of 2019.

Much of the state has seen freeze conditions already with only pockets of the state not seeing a freeze yet (like near Lake Erie in northeast Ohio). However, much of the state has not seen a hard freeze yet (though parts of Northwest Ohio have). There is a chance we will go well into November before we see a hard freeze widespread across the state of Ohio.

Harvest Progress

OK, While many of us feel that this picture represents how harvest has gone so far, we are not really that far behind.  The most recent Ohio Crop Weather report issued on October 9 shows corn harvest at 21%.  At this time last year we had harvested 12% of our corn while the most recent 5-year average is 17%.

Soybeans are lagging behind just a bit.  This report shows Ohio bean harvest at 30%.  This compares to 42% last year and a 5-year average of 36%.

So why do we feel we are so far behind?  Probably because we started sooner this year and have received just enough rain to prevent us from running beans many days this year.  Early reports that I am hearing have soybean yields much better than last year and good corn yields as well.

See the full report below.

Stalk Quality Concerns

Source: Dr.’s Peter Thomison, Pierce Paul, OSU

Poor stalk quality is being observed and reported in Ohio corn fields. One of the primary causes of this problem is stalk rot. Corn stalk rot, and consequently, lodging, are the results of several different but interrelated factors. The actual disease, stalk rot, is caused by one or more of several fungi capable of colonizing and disintegrating of the inner tissues of the stalk. The most common members of the stalk rot complex are Gibberella zeaeColletotrichum graminicolaStenocarpella maydis and members of the genus Fusarium.

The extent to which these fungi infect and cause stalk rot depends on the health of the plant. In general, severely stressed plants (due to foliar diseases, insects, or weather) are more greatly affected by stalk rot than stress-free plants. The stalk rot fungi typically survive in corn residue on the soil surface and invade the base of the corn stalk either directly or through wounds made by corn borers, hail, or mechanical injury. Occasionally, fungal invasion occurs at nodes above ground or behind the leaf sheath. The plant tissue is usually resistant to fungal colonization up to silking, after which the fungus spreads from the roots to the stalks. When diseased stalks are split, the pith is usually discolored and shows signs of disintegration. As the pith disintegrates, it separates from the rind and the stalk becomes a hollow tube-like structure. Destruction of the internal stalk tissue by fungi predisposes the plant to lodging.

Nothing can be done about stalk rots at this stage; however, growers can minimize yield and quality losses associated with lodging by harvesting fields with stalk rot problems as early as possible. Scout fields early for visual symptoms of stalk rot and use the “squeeze test” to assess the potential for lodging. Since stalk rots affect stalk integrity, one or more of the inner nodes can easily be compressed when the stalk is squeezed between the thumb and the forefinger. The “push” test is another way to predict lodging. Push the stalks at the ear level, 6 to 8 inches from the vertical. If the stalk breaks between the ear and the lowest node, stalk rot is usually present. To minimize stalk rot damage, harvest promptly after physiological maturity. Harvest delays will increase the risk of stalk lodging and grain yield losses and slowdown the harvest operation. Since the level of stalk rot varies from field to field and hybrids vary in their stalk strength and susceptibility to stalk rot, each field should be scouted separately.

Drying Corn & Beans – Using Shrink Tables

The Moisture content of grain denotes the quantity of water per unit weight of grain.  Shrinkage occurs whenever wet grain is dried. As grain is dried, moisture is removed from the grain by evaporation, which results in a loss of volume (fewer bushels) and a weight loss (fewer pounds) of grain.   The following tables can help you determine grain shrinkage from harvest moisture to dry moisture.

Corn Shrink Table

Soybean Shrink Table