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Soil Types Rule in Crop Watch Field

Soil Types Rule in Crop Watch Field
Yields or lack of yield tied to differences in soil.

Preliminary yield checks in the Corp Watch '12 field recently confirm what many suspected. As recently as three weeks ago, Chris Parker, Morgan County Extension ag educator, said this would be a year where soil type was a dominant factor in determining yield, especially in corn. His comments appear to be right on the money.

One hybrid, one field- all these ears came from the same field. The difference was soil type.

Most rows in the Crop Watch '12 field run through three soil types. One is a heavier, naturally poorly drained soil with reasonably high organic matter. It's underlain with sand, but below rooting depth. Two spots were checked in that soil. While in a good year it could produce 200 bushels per acre, the two checks averaged out to 115 bushels per acre. But at least there is corn there. And to be fair, in a very wet year with flooding and ponding, yield potential can be lost on that soil type where it isn't tiled due to loss of stand caused by saturated soils and ponding.

The problem this year is on the Fox soil, an eroded soil with sand and gravel at three to four feet, and on the Miami soil, a clay soil which is somewhat eroded. Many people refer to it as red clay hills, although with minimum tillage and no-till, many of these areas usually produce a decent crop today.

Not this year, at least not in this field- the stalks were as tall as on the dark soil, but there are no ears, more or less. Tasseling and ear shoots didn't come out at the same time. In some cases ear shoots didn't come out at all. The result of two yield checks on Miami soil was 5 bushels per acre, and that's being generous.

Corn was very short on the Fox soil, which obviously ran out of water first. Pollination and silk emergence again were off and out of sync. Many plants never put out a shoot. One check was zero. One was 5 bushels per acre.

Two somewhat poorly drained soil types, one over gravel and one not, remain to be checked. But based on the rations of the soils that have been checked in the field, a yield range of 40 to 60 bushels per acre might be in the ballpark. We'll know more after inspecting the remaining two soil types in the field.

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