Griesbach Observations from the Passenger Seat of a Combine
In addition to the drought, the 2012 growing season had a number of obstacles to overcome. I recently had the opportunity to visit with several growers about some of the difficulties they experienced this year—many of which could be overcome with high management practices.
Most of northern Illinois received between 11 and 13 inches of rain this past growing season. It is easy to say that rain was the only thing affecting yields, but there were a lot more factors than the lack of moisture. Soil type made a large difference in yields as well. Rich, black soil has the ability to hold moisture better and that was literally the difference between 100 and 200 bushel yield.
Silk clipping by rootworm was heavier than it has been since 2005, and definitely affected yields. Yield losses from silk clipping were the worst on earlier pollinating fields. Refuge corn is often yielding significantly less than Rootworm protected corn. With heavier pressure, rootworm chewed off most of the roots at 6 inches of depth on refuge corn, where traited corn exhibited feeding, but kept some roots connected to ground water.
One field had a section that yielded 80 bushel more per acre than the rest of the field. We had applied Ascend with the Roundup trip, and the plant growth regulator decreased the time from planting to pollination. So instead of an extremely hot day for pollination, this section hit a more moderate day to pollinate. Corn yields are also responding to soil fertility. The more fertile the soil is, the better the yield. In general, doing everything right (high management) is definitely paying off.
Soybean yields have been better than anticipated. The most interesting thing I have observed this year was how much the soybean yields followed soil types. Far more than normal, the black soils yielded very well, and the lighter soils fell off quickly.
As harvest winds down, I am concerned about the upcoming anhydrous season. The conversion of NH4 to NH3 takes water. If there is no water in the soil, the anhydrous will remain in a gaseous state and volatilize into the air and be lost. Coming off of a drought year, where the water was literally stripped out of the top 7 feet of soil in many corn fields, we are going to need significant rain to recharge the soil before the 2013 crop.
My next update will air on November 14, 2012 at 12:45 p.m. on WLBK AM and FM. This is Rick Griesbach, agronomist for Hintzsche Fertilizer.