What observations did you make from your combine or tractor this year? Steve and I asked ourselves this very question. After some thought, we wrote this year in review highlighting the factors that we felt had the most influence on the 2014 growing season and the importance of starting a cropping plan for 2015.
Challenging Planting Season
The 2014 planting season was challenging to say the least. Farmers had a limited number of days to get this year’s crop planted due to spring rains and cool weather. The majority of corn fields in our area were planted between May 16th to May 19th and from May 22nd to May 26th. Soil conditions during planting season continue to be the number one factor to producing a top crop.
This later than normal planting window left little time for corn plants to establish their roots before the soil was inundated with heavy rain fall in June. In many parts of our growing area this was the highest rainfall amounts farmers have seen since 1993.
After the rains finally stopped, farmers carried through late June and early July with soils so saturated that many weren’t able to get spraying applications completed before the corn was too tall. While the temperature remained moderate, the majority of the corn was pollinated during the last week of July into the first week of August. After pollination, several areas went some time without receiving any additional rain; leaving poorly developed roots unable to establish nutrient movement and feed the plant adequately. Areas that missed the heavy rains in June, or received rains in August, fared much better.
Heavy Rainfall & Stressed Crops
The higher than average amount of rainfall area farmers received in June, caused the crop’s nutrient demands to be out of reach for the plant’s roots. Soil nitrate samples taken in mid-July showed that this year’s crop had little to no nitrogen left in the rooting zone, while the corn plants were still calling for 50% of their nitrogen needs.
Difficult conditions continued when several fields were hit with a widespread frost on Sept 13th. Initially, it was not categorized as a yield affecting frost. Later, it was discovered that this frost may have affected the crop to a much larger degree.
In low lying areas of fields, where corn plants were fighting all year with saturated roots, there was a delayed development of these plants. These already stressed plants were then hit with a frost event that created a double whammy, depriving bushels in areas of the fields that are usually the highest producing areas on the farm.
Yield Results & Staying Positive
What we have witnessed this fall is 1000 variables created by one major element in crop production that being excessive rainfall. As farmers look back at the 2014 Harvest, it is obvious that yields were directly correlated to the production capabilities of each piece of ground and how that piece handled excessive water and stressful conditions. Having a good risk strategy made all the difference in agronomic decisions this growing season.
After a challenging 2014, it is important for farmers to focus on the positives; the successes of their operations this year, and capitalize on those successes in 2015. When you make production decisions in low yield environments, the opposite tends to occur the next year. Don’t be reactive, be proactive!
2015 Planning Starts Now!
Now’s the time to focus on farm planning for 2015. Next year will be different, with lower prices; farmers must focus on increased crop production to lower break evens. When presented production challenges tied to adverse market prices, a written plan and a positive attitude will minimize the emotions of making poor decisions. Contact the Corn Capital Innovation Team; we have the knowledge and resources needed to help you plan to achieve a successful farming operation in 2015.