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Soil Type Still An Issue in Corn Yields This Year

Soil Type Still An Issue in Corn Yields This Year
The effect was dramatic in 2012, and it's easy to see in 2013 too.

One year ago during the heat and drought we beat the drum that a lot of the difference in performance in corn was strictly related to soil type. The impact of whether the soil was naturally wet or droughty was quite evident last year. Yields might be near zero on the drier, tighter soils or on soils underlain with gravel. They might go up to 120 bushels per acre, even in hard-hit central Indiana, in dark, wet soils.

Tall and green: A yield check came out just over 200 bushels per acre here in this dark, naturally poorly drained soil. A few hundred feet down the row, even low there was no slope, the stalks were much drier and the yield check was closer to 140 to 150 bushels per acre.

You might be surprised to know – if you haven't been in the corn field yet – that the same effect is evident this year. It's just not as dramatic because even in the ground that's not as dark, there are at least ears. And in most cases there may be 120 to 160 bushels of corn per acre.

However, in the darker pars of the field, corn at this stage is taller, still much greener and quick yield checks in one field last week put yield at 200 bushels per acre or more in those soils. There was definitely a difference between the darker, lower soils in the field and the soils that weren't dark, even though they weren't on hills. Many people who know about soils would call the low spots Brookston and the higher, but not sloping parts Crosby soils.

One anecdotal report from someone riding a combine says that the yield monitor went from 130 to 210 bushels per acre in a field where the soil types varied widely, from droughty soil to good, dark, naturally wet soils. Expect to find that this year like last year. Except this year you can add at least 100 bushels per acre to the less productive spots and maybe 70 or 80 bushels per acre to your most productive spots.

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