Farm Progress Show host farmers are planning a wet harvest ahead of field demonstrations occurring every day of the show, Aug. 27-29. Some rows will be saved to harvest before an audience, while others need to be cleared for tiling and tillage demos.
Host farmers David Brix and Marc Padrutt were able to plant corn in the demonstration area north of the show grounds near Decatur, Ill., during a brief respite from the rain on May 17 — three days before the final planting date for the 86-day variety to mature in time for the show. They also planted a 77-day variety.
Matt Jungmann, Farm Progress Show manager, says plants came up healthy and strong. “We are going to run field demos and we’re going to be OK,” he says. Expect a few adjustments in the schedule; Jungmann recommends checking at information booths each day to see where the combines will be running.
This year’s challenging planting conditions made for a running list of A, B and C plans back during planting.
“When we’re in Boone, Iowa, we plant 80- to 85-day corn. We just have to get it in the ground,” Jungmann says. “Fortunately, we’re in Decatur this year, where there’s more heat normally through a summer, so we had the opportunity to back our maturities down. Normally, we plant 94-day, provided we can get in the ground early.”
Jungmann says the seed varieties that ended up being planted were “Option C,” so yields won’t be optimal. But corn reached a good height with a healthy stalk by the end of August — key to “putting on a show” with the combines that will exhibit harvest capabilities on the fields every day at FPS.
“We’re going to experience a yield hit,” he says. “But in order to get corn black layered by the middle of August so that it’s reasonable to harvest by the end of the month for the show, it’s what we had to do.”
Brix remembers 2009, a year with an abnormally long winter, and 2013 experienced delayed planting, too. Those summers were cool and didn’t feature the heat Decatur normally gets to mature the crop in time for the show, so the field demonstrations were limited those years.
Jungmann says half of the fields will be harvested by new equipment before the public arrives, so the machines can be “tested out, tweaked and polished.” Ride ’n’ Drives, tilling, tile drainage installation and a mock gas pipeline strike will take place on freshly harvested fields.
Smart Ag and other companies will showcase autonomous tractors. AeroVironment will demonstrate drones.
What about soybeans?
Brix says he has seven varieties of soybeans for 2019 to test out in plots near the show site. But with the delay in planting, there’s no chance any will be ready in time for the show. That’s why the showgrounds in the soybean capital of the world will continue to demonstrate harvest capabilities exclusively on corn.
“When the show wasn’t here last year, we got a pretty good idea of how to get [soybeans] harvestable in time,” Brix says. “But this year, as everybody knows, there was absolutely no luck.”
Jungmann adds that corn is more predictable than soybeans, so vendors can more reliably count on their investment panning out if they’re set up for corn rather than soybeans. Still, Brix will plant a few far-off plots of beans this year, “just to see. It’s an ongoing experiment to see what works.”