Pickaway County corn

2020 Virtual Ohio Crop Tour summary

By Matt Reese

Great job Ohio corn and soybean growers! We had 102 entries total in our 2020 Virtual Crop Tour (63 corn and 39 soybeans). Special thanks to Ohio State University Extension educators from around the state who sent in quite a few entries as well.

The corn yield averaged out to be right around 194 bushels. Soybean yield estimates came out at 54.3 bushels per acre for the state. For a corn tour by county click here. For a soybean tour by county click here.

It is very clear that the combination of just enough rain, great genetics and solid management can overcome many of the challenges of 2020 to produce strong yields. The impact of dry conditions, though, showed up in several of the reports in some of the driest areas of the state.

 John Hoffman’s Pickaway County corn report summarized the extreme variation around the state on one farm. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, much of Pickaway County is experiencing a Moderate Drought. Samples were taken in three different soil types on Hoffman’s farm: gravel, clay and dark soils. It was the good, the bad and the ugly with yields of 241 bushels, 136 bushels and 78 bushels. That was the low corn yield of the tour. The highest estimate came in from Brown County at 275 bushels.

“It was pretty much as I expected for the rainfall we had for the growing season. In June, July and August we’ve had a total of just under 6 inches of rain and most of those rains came in a tenth, two tenths or three tenths. When it is just a small rain event and it is 90 degrees in the blazing sun, a lot of it evaporates,” Hoffman said. “Some of my ground is gravel underlay soil that runs along the Scioto River. It dries out extremely quickly. It is great to plant because it dries out, but during the growing season you need to get quite a bit of rain on it.

“That was one of the first samples I pulled. The corn was beautiful and it had a great stand. It was a final stand of 31,000 to 33,000. It had fungicide applied just after tassel. We pulled the ears and I knew it was going to be two-digit corn. It came out right at 78 bushels an acre. There will be corn on the gravel that will do less than that and some will do better. I’d guess that corn on the gravel will be 75 to 100 bushels. If you get a wet summer, the gravel ground is great. But you have to have thick skin to farm gravel ground because when you have a lack of rainfall it will burn up, and that is what it has done this year.”

Yields improved some on soils that held more of the water.

 “In the same area I pulled some ears on clay ground and it was between 135 and 140 bushels. I think those soils will go 130 to 150 this year,” Hoffman said. “I pulled some samples on some darker soils and they were pretty impressive in the 230 or 240 area. That is a strong yield for the rains we’ve had. Those darker soils may go 190 to 210 overall.”

Most of the corn on the farm was planted between May 7 and May 17. Wet spring conditions delayed planting on the farm.

“We went through a wet planting period. Most of our corn in most years is planted April 15 to April 25. To start in May and finish planting corn in May is uncommon for me,” Hoffman said. “I do have some acres that I did replant around the first of June and a nice rain would still benefit the kernel depth in those areas.”

The dry August weather is also taking its toll on the soybeans.

“We’re in this dry phase and I am afraid we’ll have a lot of blank pods and some aborted pods,” Hoffman said.

The variability on Hoffman’s farm is fairly similar to what is showing up in a broader way around the state. Many areas have gotten more rain, but some have gotten even less. There will be some big yields as combines roll through Ohio this fall where rains have been more prevalent, but the dry weather has definitely taken a toll on some parts of the state that showed up in the 2020 Ohio Virtual Crop Tour. 

Overall, it seemed that disease levels were generally low across most of the state. Insect issues also were low. It did seem as if there was a fair amount of damage from larger wildlife reported. Weed issues including ragweed, marestail and waterhemp were reported as well.

Thanks to all who participated.

Pickaway County, same farm on black dirt, clay and gravel.

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