As expected, early yield reports are highly variable, depending on your location in southern and western Minnesota. There will likely be a wide range in 2007 corn and soybean yields from field-to-field and farm-to-farm, primarily due to drought and the occurrence of timely rainfall during the growing season. In addition, yield reductions also resulted from wind, hail and excessive rainfall that occurred with severe thunderstorms in many areas during the growing season. Of course, the excessive rainfall and flooding in southeast Minnesota in late August will lead to some very significant yield reductions in isolated areas of that section of the state. Many farm operators are reporting yield monitor results for corn of less than 50 bu./acre to over 200 bu./acre in the same field. The range in whole-field corn and soybean yields is likely to widen even more as harvest progresses into late September and October.
Early whole-field yield reports in various portions of Minnesota are as follows:
West-central – Corn and soybean yields 40-80% of expected normal yields.
Southwest – Corn and soybean yields 60-100% of expected normal yields.
South-central – Corn yields 70-110 % of expected normal yields. Soybean yields 60-100% of expected normal yields.
Southeast (except for flooded areas) – Corn and soybean yields 90-120% of expected normal yields.
Some good news from the early corn harvest has been the kernel moisture content, which has been at about 16-20%, and the corn test weight, which has generally been running about 54-57 lbs./bu. in early yield reports. The lower moisture content should greatly reduce or eliminate corn-drying costs at a time when propane gas costs are fairly high. Corn needs to be at about 15-16% moisture for safe storage in a grain bin until next spring. Many farm operators were very worried about the potential for low test weights with the 2007 corn crop, due to the hot, dry weather that existed most of the summer and the rapid maturation of the corn in many areas. If the early corn test weights hold up throughout harvest, it does not appear that low corn test weights will be an issue in most instances for the 2007 corn crop. The standard corn test weight is 56 lbs./bu.
Producers in many areas have begun harvesting corn early and drying it, rather than waiting for it to dry-down in the field, because of corn standability problems. A combination of problems with corn rootworm, late-season corn borers and stalk rot, combined with some corn hybrid differences, have lead to significant lodging in some corn fields. In addition, the ear shanks on some corn are quite weak, which could lead to significant ear droppage later in the fall. Growers are worried about the potential crop damage that could result in these fields from strong winds in the coming weeks, and as a result are choosing to harvest the corn now and are drying it down to the desired corn storage moisture content.
September 16-22 is National Farm Safety Week, which always serves as a good reminder for farm families to review the farm safety procedures for their operations. More farm accidents occur during the fall than at any other time of the year, and usually involve farm family members. Special care should be taken with children and senior citizens around farm and grain handling equipment, as these groups are the most vulnerable to farm accidents. The non-farm public also needs to pay extra attention when driving on rural roads during harvest season, especially before and after work and school. Farm vehicles are larger and move much slower than cars, and the autumn sun is usually in a bad position during the times of heaviest traffic on rural roads during September and October.
Editor’s note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.