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Cool temperatures at pollination lost in the fanfare of a wet season

TAGS: Extension
Cool temperatures at pollination lost in the fanfare of a wet season
Crop Watch 2015: Are cool temperatures partly responsible for better corn yields than expected?

The talk this season has been about far too much rain east of the Mississippi River and good conditions with about the right amount of rain in many places west of the Mississippi River. Many of those stuck with saturated fields in the Eastern Corn Belt, either from the beginning of the season, or at least in later June and July, felt they were holding a losing hand.

Crop Watch 10/30: How two hybrids compared in the Crop Watch field

Some were, and yields were way off. There's no denying that. One farmer reports his second worst corn crop ever, and his yield still averaged 140 bushels per acre. Some fared much worse.

Crop Watch 2015: Are cool temperatures partly responsible for better corn yields than expected?

But on the flip side, unless you were at the epicenter of the rain disaster, the line seems to be that yields were better than expected, especially on soybeans, but even on corn.

So where did this yield come from? Jim Camberato, Purdue University Extension agronomist, notes that nitrogen losses that were expected apparently didn't materialize. Many people who tested fields in mid-season looking for losses found that instead, most of the N was still there. And most means nearly all of it.

Based on yield reports flowing in, plants put that nitrogen to work. Expect for areas where corn didn't survive or where rain just overwhelmed the system, corn yields are good to very good, far better than expected in some cases.

One other factor may have been overlooked. Climatologists, going back to Jim Newman, the former Purdue agronomist, now retired, have always held that cooler than normal, wetter than normal seasons led to big corn yields. The problem this time was that it was much too wet compared to normal, and 'too wet' became a negative.

Cool weather at pollination: When tassels came out it was often cooler than normal. That was a plus in an otherwise topsy-turvy season.

Crop Watch 10/26: Finally! Yield results for the 2015 Crop Watch field

However, cool temperatures when corn pollinated was a positive. Many fields pollinated when there was ample moisture and cool temperatures. Don't downplay a cool July in many locations for once again helping corn yields.

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