Bad news makes the headlines. That's what people have always said about newspapers and the local and national electronic media. Maybe bad news is making the headlines more than it should on a national basis this summer in terms of corn performance. Only time will tell.
Some of the stories that are circulating don't match up with the 4%increase USDA is projecting based on the August estimate in the national corn crop, compared to the actual final 2010 corn crop. Note, however, that the projection this year is actually lower than the projection was for August of 2010. USDA was extremely inaccurate a year ago, dropping corn yield continuously by a final amount of about 10 bushels per acre. This year's August estimates when released to the public were compared to last year's final crop production figures released in January, not to erroneous 2010 August predictions.
Coming primarily from areas that were planted late due to wet weather and then hit with record, extended heat and dry weather during pollination and grain fill, there are horror stories of pollination circulating that might make one wonder how a 4% increase is possible. Jim Newman, the ag climatologist, always said don't look out your back door at the back forty and make up your mind on the size of the corn crop and what to do about marketing. That's because the markets work on a national if not international stage, taking production all over the world into account. Some states apparently have good corn crops, although it's hard to find even one state where there hasn't been damage from one thing or another.
In some cases, it's a wide swath of green snap or root lodging due to excessive weather conditions. In northeast Iowa, it's reports of rootworms breaking through control of certain genetic hybrids that are supposed to control rootworms. In Indiana, there are cases of done corn, but the biggest talk is about kernel fill, tip abortion and whether corn pollinated while there were still silks present.
One farmer reports that in most of his fields, every ear instead of having 14 or 16 rows around, had a messed-up pattern at some point on the ear. That would indicate problems on the particular day when that section of the cob was trying to pollinate.
Another farmer says that although he's never had a 10% crop failure on his soils with three feet of soil over gravel, he's already been advised to mow down corners where irrigation didn't hit commercial corn. Inside the irrigation ring, he's hoping for 200 bushels per acre. Outside the irrigated portion, he's resigned to not harvesting that first ear, something that has never happened to him before.
Yet another case involves poor knick in pollination and silking of inbreds for seed corn. Actually reported in at least two cases, there are only a limited number of kernels on the cob. The seed industry has yet to express any concern, so these casers may be isolated. But they're devastating if true for the people reporting them.