By Jim Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services
Farmers consistently attempt to increase crop yields but may not know which factors are important. Yield is influenced by climate and temperature, plant and water management, and soil nutrient management factors. Good genetics plus the ability to manipulate and optimize the plant’s environment generally result in the highest yields.
Climate and temperature factors are critical to achieving high yields. Warmer temperatures maximize crop growth including cell division, cell growth, and crop metabolism while cold temperatures inhibit plant growth. Ideally, soybeans grow the best at air temperatures of 770F. A string of temperatures below 600F reduces soybean pod set. Corn is a warm season plant that germinates best at 60-650F soil temperatures and grows best between 72-850F. Iowa and Illinois benefit from dark soils, high in soil organic matter (SOM) which absorbs heat and warms soils better than light-colored sandy soils.