Harvest has begun in the area, and early reports are encouraging.
The grain is still drier than most had anticipated, and yields are somewhat better.
Non-irrigated sandier soils are yielding between 70- and 140 bushels-per-acre field averages with yield spikes considerably higher. Moisture content for early corn is anywhere from 25 to 33 percent from the combine. Standability so far has been OK, but a number of plants have either shown stalk or root weakness. Farmers may start harvesting early maturing hybrids planted during the first week of May on some of our better soils. I anticipate very strong yields from these fields and am anxious to hear yield and moisture results as soon as possible.
Recently, I have seen Anthracnose in corn that occurred when the top died-back. The disease spread down the stalk and killed the whole corn plant. Once the Anthracnose has spread through the corn plant, the corn stalk loses its integrity and stalk breaks between mid-calf and knee high can occur. Unfortunately, there are quite a few fields affected this way, so standability of the corn crop is likely to be a problem.
I have also seen a few more cases of rootworm failure. These fields were starting to root lodge in a significant manner, and I can only speculate this week’s rains may worsen the situation. I would recommend farmers do some investigation if they observe major differences in the field. It's still not too late to tell the difference between root rots and rootworm larvae feeding. The plant will still have to be dug and the root system washed, but feeding damage is fairly obvious.
The University of Illinois has genetically confirmed a population of Palmer Amaranth in Grundy County. This dessert-evolved plant is a tremendous competitor with any crop, and is extremely hard to kill. There are only two options with this weed – prevention or eradication as soon as possible. Anything short of these two control methods will lead to acres lost to crop production. If you have any doubt about weeds in your field, have them checked out before harvest.
Harvest is an exciting time for all farmers, but that does not mean to neglect safety. It is important for everyone to handle this time of year with care. I encourage everyone who is traveling to take necessary time, so we are not rushed and to stay alert. Farmers are driving large machinery slowly and carefully from one location to the next, especially on rural roads.
Farmers, please be careful around all equipment this fall and make sure everyone has emergency numbers programmed into their phones, just in case. With everyone in the community taking the proper measures and time, we will have a safe and prosperous harvest!
Matthew Denton resides in Princeton and is an associate representative with White Oak Ag, Inc.