Preparation and Planning Are Keys to a Successful Harvest

By Jerry Hartsock | Cutting Edge Consulting and Research Services

Never giving up on the crop has long been an AgVenture mantra. This year the Corn Belt was hit with everything from delayed or poor planting conditions to nitrogen losses to late weed control challenges. Action will need to be taken as the crop matures in order for it to maintain its integrity and standability until harvest. Growers who remedied nitrogen loses, managed foliar diseases with fungicides and went after corn long before it became fragile will be rewarded for their efforts.

Keys to a successful harvest | AgVenture Forward Progress

What follows are several strategies, facts and things to expect from the three categories of corn that exist across the Corn Belt.

Category I – Corn planted in later April into fairly decent conditions will tassel mid-July and reach black layer by mid-September. Approximately 75% of Nebraska, 50% of Iowa and 10%–30% of other states’ corn acres are in this category. 

This category is still 7–12 days behind due to cool conditions early in the growing season. Yield potential of 200–300 Bu/a exists. N-losses and foliar disease issues can still cause yield and structure issues.

Category II – Corn planted in late April/early May into negligible conditions. Approximately 10%–25% of the corn acres in several states are in this category.

Stand issues and compaction are a result of marginal planting conditions and the saturated/cold conditions that followed. Yield reduction will come from less than ideal stands, poor early root development and side wall compaction. Pollination occurred in late July and will reach black layer in late September/early October. It will be interesting to see how many of these fields will get more nitrogen and fungicides if needed due to reduced yield
potential in the range of 140–180 Bu/a. Expect fragile corn at
harvest from this category.

Category III – Corn planted in the first 20–25 days in June.

For most states, crop insurance covers only corn planted in that range and after that significant acres were probably prevent planted. This corn will pollinate August 7–14 and reach black layer by October 5–10. Peak demand of nitrogen will be July 25 and for the following 35–40 days. Having enough nitrogen, sulfur and micros will pose a real challenge. Late season foliar diseases such as NCLB, GLS, rust, etc. will need to be monitored so they don’t reduce yields and create standability issues before harvest. Twenty-five percent to 50% of the acreage in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota has late maturing corn concerns. Monitor for nitrogen levels and foliar diseases as fields pollinate. These acres will be extremely vulnerable to silk clipping insects, corn rootworm beetles, second generation European corn borer, armyworms, etc. Low test weight concerns and never getting below 25% grain moisture are possibilities as well.

Keys to a successful harvest | AgVenture Forward Progress

What to Be Aware of and Plan For

  • Have a plan for—and brace yourself for—wet corn.
  • Corn varieties that reach black layer in October struggle to dry down below mid/low 20% range.
  • Conditions at planting are the number one indicator of yields.
  • Lower test weight corn and wetter grain will be delivered to elevators east of the Mississippi.
  • Peak demand for nitrogen/sulfur will continue into mid/late August for category I and II, past Labor Day weekend for category III corn planted in June.
  • The same hybrid planted in June will typically require 100–150 fewer GDUs than if it were planted in later April/early May. Smaller stalk diameters, less kernel set and smaller kernel depth is part of the price paid to catch up.
  • Crop insurance coverage will drive many management decisions as this crop advances/matures.

Remember to count on your local independent Regional Seed Company and AgVenture Yield Specialist for advice—they are highly experienced in assisting with money-making decisions. Enjoy the rest of the growing season, harvest and hopefully very attractive grain prices.