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Corn Yields Are Good- Could Have Been Better!

Corn Yields Are Good- Could Have Been Better!
Dry weather and nutrient shortages late held down potential.

One year ago Dave Nanda looked at a corn field in mid-June and reported the yield potential was 200 bushels per acre. The field made 55 bushels per acre. Nobody could have foreseen the terrible 'herought' as Nanda called the heat and drought combination-whammy of 2012 that was about to unfold.

This year he looked at a similar field in mid-June and again said the yield potential was 200 bushels per acre. This time he won't be far off. Nanda is Director of Genetics and Technology for Seed Consultants, Inc.

Good, not great- Dave Nanda holds an ear from a field that pushed 200 bushels per acre. If the tips had filled as they started to fill before kernels aborted in a dry spell, yield would have topped 200 bushels per acre. The question is by how much?

Even though the field he examined will push that mark, it could have been better. As it turns out based on yields of other fields nearby on the same farm, the potential was actually greater than 200 bushels per acre. However, dry weather which started in late July and ran through August and September, perhaps couple with nutrient shortages, took the top end off yield again.

Where did the yield go? Primarily in abortion of tip kernels. When the field was checked in late July, most ears were attempting to fill clear to the tip. The tip kernels were fertilized. They are the last to form and the first to be aborted if the plant decides it can't complete every kernel it started, Nanda says. A few weeks later most of those tip kernels were aborted and gone. A bare tip of an inch or more was common, even though the field still yielded well above average, producing a yield many people would be glad to have.

Nanda says it once again shows Mother Nature is in control. Last year she completely took control. This year she stuck in a dry spell just to keep farmers humble. However, Nanda believes this year shows that when the weather cooperates, the potential is there for higher yields in the future. The genetics and the production techniques are in place to keep pushing yields higher.
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