We had about a week in April to get stuff planted early. If you missed that window then that put you well into May because of the rains. That corn planted in May just did not want to dry down and it took a long time to harvest. With the dryer it takes twice as long to take twice as much moisture out. Typically, we should be in the 18% moisture range and we were in the 24% moisture range.
We were extremely dry early, but when the corn is knee high, it doesn’t take all that much moisture. And then we got our July and August rains like we have the previous 2 years, so that makes 3 years in a row we’ve gotten really good rains in July and August. That’s what really makes a good yield. With it being dry earlier, we didn’t have hardly any insect pressure or disease pressure until later on after when we started getting the rains. Then tar spot and northern leaf blight came in late, but it really didn’t matter if you sprayed or not, at least for us. It came in late enough that it didn’t seem to hurt yields. We sprayed about half of the crops just to see how it worked out, and there really was not much difference between the fields that were sprayed and the ones on weren’t. It pays to scout your fields and know what you’ve got out there so you can make an informed decision.
Harvest weather has really pretty well cooperated this year and it ended up being a good year for yields.
Going into this growing season we decided to make some changes in our herbicide program and we went to variable rate seeding rates for both corn and beans. That seems to be working really well and we are very pleased with our results. We cut back on soybean seeding rates, not immensely, but some. We’ve been dialing back a little bit each year. I think we were in a range of up to 160,000 per acre and we cut most acres back to the 130,000 to 140,000 range.
And I’ve kind of been a miser when it came to top end anhydrous ammonia rates, but the younger generation kind of pushed me to go with the recommended rates at a variable rate and it’s really paid off in the corn yield. We went up about 45 pounds to the acre on average and that was all variable rate applied according to soil type and yield potential. On the outside of the fields where we have tree lines, we just put enough on to make an ear, thinking that the trees were going to suck up all the moisture. So, along the woods we cut back there and then put more on in the dark ground and less on the light ground.
A few years ago we had the airplane scheduled to spray fungicide and with their schedule, by the time they got here, it was too late and we had a lot of disease pressure. After that, we just started budgeting in for it. Now we spray the fungicide on our soybeans but we have a custom application company come in and do the corn. If nothing else, it helps build a stronger stalk and helps standability.
Don’t give up on a crop. It was so dry the end of May and June, I thought we were a week away from throwing in the towel. Then it started raining and here we are with the best crop I’ve ever grown.
This year everything has gone our way weather wise.
We decided not to spray any of our soybeans with fungicides and I think that was the right move. I think some of the fungicide maybe made it a little bit tougher to get beans dry enough to cut during the better weather we had back there in October. It seems like fungicide is just always a gamble. On the corn, we do all of our corn-on-corn acres and I didn’t do much of the corn after beans this year. I really didn’t see much of a yield difference between the two.
With wheat, we will probably just keep it at the same acreage in future years. It’s a nice crop to grow in the summer for a little bit of extra cash coming in, but it’s still not a money maker compared to our soybean-corn rotation, unless you get one of those wild card years where you get a good double-crop soybean yield. Now, we did have the best wheat yield we’ve ever had this year and we can’t complain about it, but you never know, next year could be a disaster.
The corn has been wet. We found some corn that was a little bit drier and it was some of the poorer yielding corn we’ve had. The wetter corn has been yielding better. It would have been nice to get it planted a little earlier. We got a lot planted in the May 10 to May 18 range. For our area that is normally about perfect. We could have never predicted the wildfire smoke and all that happened this year. If we would have had a better forecast back in April when it was dry, we would have probably put some more out, but with the cold and wet that they were forecasting, it looked like a good decision at the time to wait. I honestly think we made the right decision waiting because there were some replants around here. It’s always different every year and it’s just a gamble you take.
I’m going to work with Ohio State researchers because we need to do something about white mold. White mold was a real problem with soybean yields in this area and the variety did not seem to matter. South of here yields were 20 to 30 bushels in fields with white mold and it was in areas that have not had white mold problems in the past. Yields in other fields were around 65 bushels.
I think the earlier beans were affected with white mold worse than the later beans, probably due to the flowering time. I know one farm was new ground for agriculture, maybe a 4- or 5-year-old field. It may have had beans on it once before and it had absolutely terrible white mold. You would think there would be no buildup of white mold in that field and that it would not be an issue. It is all about the timing of the rains and the flowering. The infection comes from raindrops hitting the ground. It has to enter through the blossom.
We’re also working on trade. I went to Tokyo and Korea for a big marketing meeting this fall. They want to know the condition of the crop here in the U.S. Countries like Japan import 75% of their food needs. They’re very concerned about world supply, so it’s very much so on their radar for both food grade and commercial soybeans. With their culture, they value relationships a lot and want to know soybean producers. And, in Japan, on every inch of ground, even landscaping around hotels and businesses, they grow food like decorative cabbages. There isn’t grass. They have so little arable land nothing is wasted. Nobody has an acre yard. Every available piece of land is used for food production.