PEORIA, Ill. — Concerns over adequate growing degree days
combined with dry weather at grain-fill this past season were eased as corn
producers found surprising yields during harvest.
Dave Mowers, AIM for the Heartland consulting agronomist,
said there were several factors that played a role in those unexpectedly higher
“Our hybrids are probably the biggest reason, along with
better nitrogen management, better tillage, and we had early rains that helped
build up the groundwater,” Mowers said at the Greater Peoria Farm Show.
“We were drier in the last half of June, July, August and
September than we were in 2012, so it was to our benefit to have the excess
water in the spring.”
Also key to helping the crops were those cool sunny days in
July as pollination occurred.
“We had a lot more sun. I think we will find out that has an
effect on how the crops fill out with lower than expected degree days,” Mowers
“With more sun there was more photosynthesis and consequent
grain-fill that occurred from that. The amount of sunshine we had all the way
through the end of the growing season participated in these unexpectedly high
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates Illinois’
average corn yield at 180 bushels per acre, a 75 bushel increase over the 2012
drought year. The USDA projects Illinois soybeans to average 49 bushels per
acre, six more than in 2012.
In turning attention to 2014, Mowers said there are concerns
about the continued dry weather.
“We’ve got to have something to build this groundwater up or
I think we will be in stress. I’m not going to say that it’s going to be a
disaster, but if we would have had any severe heat in July it would have really
mattered this year,” he said.
The suitable weather after harvest did allow farmers to
complete their fall tillage. Mowers said increased improvements in farm drainage
also increase productivity.
Soil health and potential government regulations also were
noted by Mowers during his interview with AgriNews.
“People have also been very mindful of soil health,” he
said. “This is going to take a long time to really see, but cover crops have
really taken a foothold, and I think the government is going us incentive to do
He anticipates that fertilizer usage will be regulated.
“Sooner or later we’re going to be regulated how much
nitrogen we can put on in one application, especially in the fall, and I don’t
think that in all reality we can totally ban the use of fall nitrogen or early
spring pre-plant nitrogen,” he said.
“We don’t have the infrastructure nor the manpower nor any
of the other things that would be necessary to do it in-season.
“But we learned one thing for sure this year that sidedress
nitrogen really is an option and people can cover a lot of ground with the
equipment they have now to be able to do it with.”
“I think it’s going to increase, it’s just bound to because
our potential to lose nitrogen is just so great. It’s not any more than it ever
was before I think we’re just more aware of it,” Mowers said.