I would like to reflect on a few things before we get combines to the field. Let us give everyone a pat on the back and a HOORAH for getting where we are; not only have we experienced field and weather condition challenges, but 2020 from a national standpoint has been one we will not forget. I quoted John Denver earlier this year by stating, “Thank God I’m a country boy,” and that could not be truer today.
Digging into the dirt and putting seed in the ground started as early as April 5th in many parts of north central Indiana. Soil temps were on the cooler side, but they hovered right around that 50-degree threshold. A late frost on May 9th with nighttime temperatures as low as 27 degrees in areas, was the first speed bump of many to come. We did not let that slow us down and emerged from the challenge. Many soybeans with purple necks and corn plants that had been battling for 3 weeks, finally popped through the dirt. Most growing points were below the dirt, but thin stands were evaluated, and some replant went out while others put their planters away. It was no cakewalk of a planting season, but it seemed that way in comparison to 2019.
We rolled out sprayers and side-dress applicators in May and into June, and a lot of crops were looking promising. Having a strong lineup of products with great early season vigor, coupled with rains, allowed growers to be excited about their crops. A few farmers in Newton and Benton County mentioned this was the best they had seen their corn at side dress. However, we hit the next speed bump, and it lasted for about 18 – 19 days; many farmers did not receive any rainfall. No rain during the critical V5 – V6 growth stage has led to some 14 kernels around on lighter soils. This seemed to be the trend throughout most of June and July. No rain was also coupled with above-average temperatures that reached 90+ degrees for several straight days. Nighttime temps were 70+ degrees in most parts of the state. We did receive many timely rains that helped us get through pollination, putting us back on track.
Cleared for takeoff into the reproductive stage, we saw several airplanes in the sky. Fungicide applications were in full swing even though it was not considered to be a high disease pressure year. Hot, dry temperatures led to minimum leaf wetness in the mornings. Pressure picked up slightly as temps dropped toward the end of July into the early parts of August. Many growers in the surrounding counties of Carroll received a 2-inch rain at the start of August. Some were fortunate to get more when the straight-line winds came on August 10th. Our thoughts and prayers go out to farmers affected by the rainless hurricane throughout the Midwest. We were fortunate here in Indiana, as only a few tops were blown out.
As August comes to a close, it is clear to see the white flag is being waved. When we walk our fields, you will notice which farms were sprayed with a fungicide to keep the corn factory alive. Corn plants are doing more than firing and dropping ears, they are simply dying at a very rapid pace throughout the Midwest. With little rain throughout the majority of August and temperatures returning to 90+ degrees, I suggest you get those combines ready, because harvest season is approaching us like a runaway Boilermaker train. Even if we get rain over the weekend, it is not going to be enough to keep us alive. I believe rain will help sustain yield, keep us from aborting pods, and help finish filling kernels, but I do not see it adding any potential growth or yield value.
This has been an interesting growing season, but honestly when can we not say that? I truly believe we are going to have a good and respectable crop, possibly record-breaking on some individual farms. However, these speed bumps which we have encountered, are finally being calculated into the growing story: cool soil temps with a late frost that lead to thin stands, droughty-like condition with above-average high temps in critical growing periods, little rain in August with straight line winds. We have lost millions of stored bushels and more yield potential than what crop reports are telling. Look at the markets the past few days, that is a particularly good indicator that these Pro Farmer and USDA crop reports are going to be short. According to Pro Farmer, Indiana corn comes in at 186 bushels and soybeans sit at 61. These are very doable numbers, but remember what we have been through to get here.
Stay safe this fall and do not get into a hurry. Pushing too hard is where simple mistakes happen that do not come with simple consequences. As always feel free to contact me. Be on the lookout for emails and texts about 2020 plot data. I look forward to sitting by y’all in the combine very soon. Thanks again for all you do for agriculture. Happy Harvesting!
Braden Abbott – Frontiersmen DSM/Agronomist