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2011 Harvest Outlook

By Staff | Aug 22, 2011

Some harvesting has been completed this growing season with oats finished in July as was this field west of Milford. Operating the combine is Dustin Schwaller. The second cutting of alfalfa hay is virtually done in Iowa and third cutting in some parts of Iowa is well underway. But the questions remain, what numbers will combine monitors show when corn and soybeans come out of the fields this fall?

SPENCER – Sweltering daytime temperatures and above-normal night time temperatures during most of July combined to give crop and market analysts a reason to suspect lower corn yields and price volatility for the 2011 harvest season.

Paul Kassel, an Iowa State University crop specialist, said crops overall are looking good considering the stress they were under during July.

“Most of our corn appears to be in the R3 or milk stage,” he said of early August corn production. “Some of the news (has been) a concern about corn pollination problems and the potential for reduced yields.

“I have not seen any major problems with pollination in my travels.”

But at the same time, he said a larger concern for him was the high daytime and night time temperatures during the first two weeks of the grain-fill period.

“I figure that most of the corn in my area pollinated around July 20,” he said. “The grain fill period is about eight weeks long

“My concern is that the high temperatures pushed the corn maturity a little fast from the pollination stage to the milk stage.”

Kassel said that increased pace of corn development could potentially reduce corn yields.

He added that the warm nights experienced in July most likely increased night time respiration – when the corn plant uses up some of its energy during the night that it would normally keep if night-time temperatures were cool.

Kassel said that should be a concern to producers.

“It’s more important to have good weather during the first few weeks of that time rather than during the last few weeks,” he said. “(The combination of) high day and night time temperatures is not a recipe for good yields for corn, but at the same time, the humidity saved us.”

Bob Streit, independent consulting agronomist from Boone, supported that fact.

“When night time temperatures are above 55 to 60 degrees, the plants burn up starch that was formed during the day,” he said. “We are seeing some of the most shallow kernels we’ve seen since the mid- to late-1980s.”

Streit added that he is also seeing areas where corn kernels are aborting and soybean pods are shedding because of the hot, dry weather across the nation.

“We’re seeing as much as one to three inches of kernels aborting,” he said, adding that lack of moisture and extreme daytime and night time temperatures have shortened the grain-filling period, combining to reduce the depth of kernels.

Goss’ wilt in the mix

Goss’ wilt is also something that is becoming more widespread across the Corn Belt, though ISU’s Kassel said it shows up primarily on corn-on-corn fields, and has not been prevalent in areas where corn followed soybeans.

Goss’ wilt is characterized by top leaves wilting, and black dots showing up on the lower two to three feet of the corn stalk.

“Most of the leaves on most of the corn plants (in our area) look very good with few disease symptoms,” he said. “The last three weeks (late July through early August) have been dry so the problem really hasn’t developed.”

However, Streit said, it will be important for corn producers to continue scouting and stay on top of the Goss wilt issue, since yield reductions can amount to anywhere from 100 bushels per acre to 100 percent yield loss in areas where it becomes very prevalent.

“Farmers are going to need to be asking for the Goss’ wilt rating from their seed dealers, and when they do soil sampling, they need to ask to have the micronutrient levels tested,” he explained. “Then when the plants emerge and start to grow during the summer, they need to insist on tissue sampling.”

From a global perspective, Streit said Goss’ wilt something that producers need to stay on top of.

“The world cannot afford something like this,” he said. “There will be less grain supply this year than we have had in a long time.”

Streit said that with the hot and dry conditions of late-July and early-August, corn producers can figure on having lost around 40 bushels per acre.

Soybeans’ outlook

Kassel said soybean fields were entering the full pod stage, or R4, as of early August.

“Initially many soybean fields seemed to stay in the full bloom stage for an extended time period,”?Kassel said. “We are not sure what the means, and it may mean that there may be more nodes and more yield potential.

“The soybean crop could still be a pleasant surprise.”

Streit said soybeans can withstand the high heat and high humidity experienced during July, better than corn can.

“Soybeans’ (yield potential) are up in the air right now,” he said of the soybean crop condition in early August. “They need rain now and every week after that.

“They will have a chance to recover, but the longer they go without rain, the more trouble we could see with plants aborting their pods.”

Streit’s best estimate for soybean yield outlook is 2,200 seeds per pound under good conditions, and, if it doesn’t rain between now and harvest, it could be as many as 3,200 seeds per pound.

Sucking aphids

Kassel said soybean aphids have made their way from the northern part of his area to the southern part, but that farmers are staying on top of it.

This, he said, is important if/when dry weather conditions persist as they have, because the aphids can do much more damage in that type of environment, reducing yield potential.

“They’re out there, but in small proportion,” he said. “So far, insecticide and fungicide are taking care of it. Farmers need to keep checking their fields for redevelopment.”

Streit added, “The aphid population explosion is slower in developing this year. It was all occurring during the season when the soybean plants were two weeks behind in developing because of the extreme cold weather we had in May.”

Contact Karen Schwaller at kschwaller@evertek.net.

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2011 Harvest Outlook

By Staff | Aug 22, 2011


Farm News news editor

Darin Newsom, senior market analyst for Televent DTN, Omaha, Neb., said that with the weather factors of this year’s growing season, producers can expect, ” extremely volatile markets, good pricing opportunities and questionable yield prospects.”

The volatility, said Bryce Anderson, DTN’s senior ag metoerologist, may be created if the major La Nina weather that plagued much of last season and earlier this season, reforms this fall.

That record weather pattern lasted from June 2010 to April 2011.

Anderson said there’s strong evidence, with “many large pools of cool water in the mid-Pacific, that La Nina could reform this fall.

“The trend is that a strong La Nina can be followed by another next season.”

And what if it does?

The Dust Bowl-like drought in Texas and much of the southwest will continue, Anderson said. In fact, Southern Iowa and Missouri have already entered the first stages of a drought.

Anderson said there is no expetation that a favorable El Nino weather pattern is likely this fall, anticipating “that this could last until next April.”

In addition, he said, if La nina does reform, it raises the risk of an early frost,

He noted that the central Midwest states have received an average of 200-plus growing degree units over normal this season, with record, or near-record July temperatures recorded in those states.

Otherwise, he expects normal temperatures to prevail over the Corn Belt from September to November.

There may be adequate rain in the fall for planting winter wheat in the Plains States and cover crops for central?Corn Belt states, Anderson. However, he does not expect the drought to break in the southwest.

“Northern Kansas will see good rain,”?Anderson said, “but from Dodge City south to Oklahoma and Texas, I just don’t see much wheat being planted.”

Karen Schwaller, Farm News staff writer, contributed to this report.

Contact Larry Kershner at (515) 573-2141, Ext. 453 or at kersh@farm-news.com.

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