Corn and soybean harvest expectations

By Brian Essinger, Monsanto Territory Manager, Northern Ohio

The ability of soybean pods to fill will make a big difference in yield.
Harvest is rapidly approaching and overall in 2010 we will all have a lot in which to look forward. But before I get to that, let’s start off with the most important harvest message: Be safe. Each spring and fall I e-mail my growers this same message because it holds the most importance. Please take that little extra time to do whatever your doing the safe way. Walk around not over, turn it off even when you are just taking a look, slow down or stop when your tired, and think about who you get to come home to so it stays first and foremost in your mind. We have all had to visit those who lost loved ones or who were injured during the fall. So be safe, I always enjoy sitting down and visiting with you, and I would like to keep it that way this fall!
Now that the most important part of my message is out of the way, what do we have to look forward to in the 2010 harvest?

Corn expectations for Fall of 2010
Keep an eye on your corn fields starting today. Our corn will be drier this year than we have seen in a long time. It will actually surprise you how dry the corn is getting; the combination of early planting, abundance of heat units, denitrification, and dry spells have caused our corn to dry down faster than we expect. Don’t just look at the calendar, take a look at each of your fields. A tip to remember is at black layer corn is 32% to 34% moisture and and the ideal harvest moisture for optimal yields is 20% to 22%.

Standability and disease
The two biggest culprits of any stand issues in 2010 will be corn borer and corn rootworm. I have been trapping moths this summer and moth nubmers are off the charts, especially corn borer and corn earworm moths. This, coupled with some of the rootworm pressure we are seeing in our root digs, could cause stand issues depending upon this fall’s storm patterns. As far as disease is concerned, the humidity, heat, and denitrification has contributed to some disease pressure in the field that could affect stand. But with the early timing of this fall they should not have a substantial impact on standibility.

This is the $64,000 question. You can use the formula (# of kernels in Row x # of Rows x final stand)/ 90,000) to calculate an estimated corn yield. Still 2010 will be no different than any other year, calculations do not take into consideration kernel depth, wet holes, or harvest timing (rememeber 20% to 22% is ideal for optimal yields). The biggest yield detractors I have seen so far are some ear malformations due to extreme heat during pollination and fill, denitrificaion from the early rains limiting some kernel depth and plant health, and bugs like corn borer, corn earworm, and corn rootworm that have amplified the other stresses. Even with these stresses, we still have a lot to look forward this fall. I have seen a lot of suprising fields in the dry and wet areas and believe overall we are looking at an above average corn harvest.

Soybean expectations for Fall pf 2010
Soybeans maturity is different relative to corn. Corn uses heat units to determine its maturity, while soybeans utilize light and day length. (i.e. as the days grow shorter soybeans begin their maturing process) As of the writing of this article soybeans are maturating normally, but not as rapidly as corn. Today it looks as though some corn will be harvested before the first bean is cut.

Because of the heat and humidity soybean diseases like frogeye, powdery mildew and downy mildew have been a little more common in 2010. The two most prevalent diseases I have seen are brown spot (Septoria Leaf Blight) and SDS (Sudden Death Syndrome). Both are caused by heavy rains, and water, but affect the plant in two completely opposite ways. For the most part, brown spot is purely cosmetic, unless it covers more than 50% of the leaf material on the soybean plants, and does not affect yield. SDS, on the other hand, all though not widespread, is hitting the areas with the heaviest rains or severely compacted fields. From the hardest hit areas I have scouted, no soybean variety is exempt, but the hope is that the disease has set in late enough to cause less of an impact on yield. Both infections start early in the plants life, and are usually only seen when conditions are favorable.

As hard as it is to predict yield in corn it is even tougher to do so in soybeans. That is why I don’t attempt it at all. I will say that conditions overall have been very favorable to soybean yields and with this past weekend’s rain, we should see some good yields. I would encourage you to take a look at the pod set in your soybeans and pay particular attention to RR2 Yield soybeans in 2010. I have been amazed at the number of 3 and 4 bean pods on these varieties and am still searching for that elusive 5 bean pod like the ones that have been found in Miami, Crawford, Wayne, and Hancock counties.
Finally, be safe, folks I cannot reiterate this too often. It will be the most important and most profitable thing you do this fall. From myself, my colleagues, and my family, take care and God bless.

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