WATAGA, Ill. — The current corn crop is at a yield-teetering
point as plant engine grinds toward maturity.
Rod Parkinson, Wyffels Hybrids district sales manager, said
there “is some great potential” with corn yields in the counties he serves, but
that potential will be determined by rain during grain-fill.
Knox and Peoria counties in his district started the season
with above-normal rainfall, and the impact of the early moisture on nitrogen
uptake is evident.
“When I look at rainfall back in May, Knox County was
definitely hit harder. Knox County was about seven to eight inches above normal
— especially northern Knox County — in precipitation,” Parkinson said. “Peoria
County was more like half that, four to five inches above normal.
“So, early on, I really thought Peoria County was a little
better off, and they still might be. But with that being said, I think the crop
still looks very good.”
A big concern has been the cooler summer and growing degree
“It’s kind of a little bit of a double-edged sword. It’s
been rather cool, and we’re below normal on GDUs. I think we’re about 180 or 190
GDUs below normal on a 30-year average, but we’re still well above where we were
in 2009 if you were comparing apples to apples,” Parkinson said.
“In my opinion, we’re going to get the crops finished. It’s
been cool here the last few weeks, but that’s really kind of saved us. The crop
has really hung in there very well.
“But we do need to catch up on GDUs, and we will start to
catch up this week. It looks like we’re going to average 25 growing degree units
a day for the next 10 to 14 days, which is going to catch us up pretty
“It will be interesting how the crop holds in there. We’re
all well below normal on rainfall right now, so we could all use a pretty good
rain any time.”
At this stage in the growing season, corn growers need to
look at several agronomic and harvest issues.
“We need to look at the agronomics of the plant, look at the
health ratings and look at these fields that maybe are poorly drained,”
“I think the big caveat is the fields that are poorly
drained are the ones you really need to watch because we probably lost a little
more nitrogen on those farms and then early root development might have been
“So those might be the first fields that we really need to
watch for stalk breakdown and cannibalization from that stalk if we do not get a
rain over the next week or two when this plant needs it during
Parkinson doesn’t believe disease was a major inhibiting
factor this growing season.
“There is disease out here. There is a little more gray leaf
spot than I thought,” he said. “When we were starting to tell people to pull the
trigger, I was really having a hard time telling guys to spend $30 an acre
because things were so clean.
“But at that time we just focused on looking at the
agronomics of their plant and if it has a lower stay-green rating and its pretty
susceptible to gray leaf spot, if you’re going to spend the money spend it on
“We had a lot of dewy mornings and the gray leaf really did
kick up, but I still don’t think it’s going to be a real big problem.”
The top issue in this year’s corn is the plant’s ability to
uptake nitrogen after it turned dry. Parkinson also has not seen any major
insect problems this year in his district.
“There are some rootworm beetles flying around. Japanese
beetles are hanging around longer. Usually you’d think six to eight week with
those, but they’re still hanging around,” he said. “Right now at this point I’m
not really worried about any insects.
“When we were starting to pull the trigger on fungicide,
there was kind of a hotbed over Knox County by that Yates City area where there
seemed to be a lot of Japanese beetles feeding.
“They were attracted to the first fields to pollinate and
there were few fields over there that really got clipped and it’s going to hurt
the yield in a small percentage of fields.”
In looking at fields the first week of August, Parkinson
said, “I really thought we could have a lot of 240, 250 out here and I still
think there is some of that potential, but if we don’t get rain in the next week
to two weeks it’s really going to drop down to more of an average crop.
“Drainage is so key, and those fields that are well-drained
where water didn’t pond too long just really look consistent and are not firing
up, but those poorly drained farms are starting to fire up.”
Farmers in Knox and Peoria counties had two windows for corn
planting this year — April 29 to May 1 and after May 14.
“All along I thought that early-planted corn had an
advantage, it handled the water better, it all looked better,” Parkinson
“But as we look at fields over the last couple of weeks,
that early-planted corn is about 150 GDUs above the mid-May planting. So it does
have its advantage of being farther along, but it’s showing more tip-back, and
we’re not getting quite as good of a kernel count on that first crop planted as
we are on the mid-May planting.
“I think part of it is, when you think about the May 15
planting, that stuff all pollinated when it was really cool and in perfect
conditions, and that May 1 pollinated during that early heat wave we had.
“That might have affected it a little bit. That May 15
planting pollinated in the most beautiful weather.
“Kernel counts are still tremendous. I think we have a good
crop, but when I look at yields, I’m looking at 160 to 260 right now and
everything in the middle.”
Parkinson also estimated when harvest could be expected.
“I did an estimate on black layer, and on an average 110-,
111-day hybrid planted May 1 I’m think it should black layer around that Sept.
13 or 14, depending on the heat units from here on out,” he said.
“Then you add another 10days on it to get it from 31 percent
(moisture) to 25 percent. I think there will definitely be some corn picked the
last week of September, and the majority of it will be picked in the first week