It would have been reasonable not to expect much out of the corn crop across parts of Iowa this year.
From corn not getting in the ground until June, flooding in some areas and drought in others, expectations were tempered across much of the state, said Iowa Crop Improvement Association Executive Director Jim Rouse.
However, in the ICIA corn yield test results, the crop was much better than he anticipated.
“What sticks out to me is that a lot of the yields were better than expected because of all those things,” he said. “The late planting, some parts of the state were too wet and some were too dry. All those things make for a downward revision in your expectations.”
There was a lot of variation across the state, but ultimately, Central Iowa had some of the top results this year.
“We thought Central Iowa looked pretty good across the board,” Rouse said. “We had good numbers from the south and a few across the north. It was pretty broad where we saw good stuff, but other than Ames, we were good all the way across the central corridor.”
Rouse noted many of the trial field planters were able to get in the ground by May 15. With timeliness needed for accurate results, he said they were lucky not to deal with too much delay in their locations.
The reason that was helpful for the trials is because they are always harvesting a large range of maturities, Rouse said. He noted that farmers are able to adjust their varieties as delays become more of an issue, possibly moving to a shorter-season variety. However, for trial purposes, Rouse said they don’t get that option.
“If we couldn’t get a corn plot in by May 20, we probably would still plant it, but I can almost guarantee it would be a discard,” he said.
Despite being an extreme weather year, Rouse said 2019 isn’t a year you can ignore when it comes to field trials.
“Geography, the weather and climate, it all plays a part,” Rouse said. “Because of that, I think these results are a snapshot of how these things in our tests perform relative to each other when we have the year we had.
“We don’t know what next year is going to be like. Because of that, whether these numbers are unusually high or unusually low … what’s important is the relative position in the rankings compared to the other entries.”
He said regardless of weather, it would be reasonable to assume a variety that performs well in certain environments would perform well in years that might not be as harsh.