How many times have you said, 'If that field had got just one more rain, we would have been over the top, and yields would have really been good?" Jim Facemire says it often since many of the fields he farms near Edinburgh are droughty, with gravel underneath them. Some fields are irrigated, but not all of the land he farms has supplemental water available.
This year, rainfall was nearly ideal. And to make a good thing better, he was in a small band that received significant rainfall Labor Day weekend, just when corn was finishing packing nutrients into kernels and soybeans were filling pods. As a result, he's pulled of some pretty interesting yields.
One field that consists of nearly all land that's underlain by sand and gravel bested 200 bushels per acre of dry corn. What's also amazing is that two years ago, when that same band north of Edinburgh received a grand total of 5.5 inches from May 1 through September, corn on that land without irrigation yielded 80 bushels per acre!
Farther north a seed rep says that yields are very good in the better areas of Carroll County, blessed with good soils. The only problem is that, almost like everywhere else, the corn is coming out of the field wet. Harvest is dragging on. When a field is finally harvested, the yield report is typically good, though.
Unfortunately, yield isn't the only thing coming out of many fields in that area. Some are infected with diplodia ear rot, not typically a concern that far north in Indiana. But this is not a typical year. There are also fields infected with Gibberella ear rot, the fungus that produces two mycotoxins. One, vomitoxin, causes feed refusal especially in pigs.
The truth is that all species of animals, even ruminants, can be affected. However, pigs are more susceptible. They will go off feed, refusing to eat or exhibiting poor performance at significantly lower concentrations of the mycotxin than most other species. The problems is severe enough to warrant testing corn to make sure what you're intending to feed doesn't contain the toxin. Once corn is shelled and in the bin, evidence of ear rots, like Gibberellla and diplodia, are much harder to detect. Diplodia is not known to produce any harmful toxins for animals.
What's left behind in the field will also perhaps be an issue next spring. Traveling through southeast Indiana, where 'buttermilk flat' soils stay wet once they get wet, many fields of soybeans were harvested, but ruts from combine traffic were noticeable, even through a windshield survey. While many specialists say it's a cost of doing business, since the crop must come out, that won't prevent soil compaction from being an issue on those soils next year.
Don't expect soil compaction to be erased by winter freezing and thawing. That's especially true farther south in the state where soils don't freeze very deep in some winters.