Corn harvest

The cool wet weather of spring and summer have made it difficult to predict quality and yield in crops such as corn.

The 2019 planting season began with numerous cold and wet days.

“It was a really slow start from the get-go for us,” said Samantha Brantner, a technical agronomist with DEKALB Asgrow. “Even when corn got into the ground, a lot of it took two to four weeks to come out of the ground, which would normally only take seven to 10 days.”

Corn was 58 percent planted as of the June 3 planting report, she said. The normal is 90 percent. The June 10 report showed an increase to 78 percent planted.

Once producers got into June with little to no corn planted, many switched to hybrids that were at least five maturity points sooner. By the end of June producers were moving to another five maturity points.

“There was a lot of maturity shifts going on and a lot of shuffling seed across the state,” Brantner said of Wisconsin. “It really seemed like the western part of the state got a jumpstart to the planting season. As you work your way across the state from west to east, you can see that planting became more challenging.

“We were still planting late into the end of June and the first part of July. A lot of that will be taken off as silage. We were planting corn for quite a while this year. For sure up until July 4 there were still corn planters rolling.”

As of mid-August most corn was at tassel, she said. The later-planted corn was knee-high to waist-high.

“One bright spot in the year is that we were able to enjoy optimum weather conditions during the majority of the corn’s pollination season,” she said. “A lot of the crop that’s really short, farmers put that in prevent-plant. But when they were able to put a crop in, a lot of it was done then for feed.”

Weed control has been a battle this year due to the lateness of planting. But disease pressure has not been much of a problem, she said. She credits that to more producers being proactive with fungicide use this year.

Wisconsin is about 200 growing-degree days behind normal, Brantner said. But even that estimate varies across the state. She said she expects harvest to be delayed; growers will likely be harvesting into November this year.

“What’s really going to cause a little bit of an issue is there’s so much variation in the field; moistures could vary just going across the field,” she said. “We need some warmer days to finish September to help us catch up growing-degree days to finish everything out.”

Yield expectation appears to be well above average for northwest Wisconsin, she said. But other parts of the state will likely have yields less than average. That’s because of later planting, switching hybrids and the weather.

Despite the challenges this season, Brantner said she’s pleased with the performance of DEKALB products.

“I have been able to walk many plots over the last few months,” she said. “I’m impressed with not only the reliability of our existing products, but also the new DEKALB product lineup for 2020. Tough years are challenging but these products have shown the ability to fight in the less-than-ideal conditions.”

This column was contributed by Agri-View for DEKALB.

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