The power of a Long Grain Fill period and moderate temps

One thing that became very apparent this harvest is that as long as you avoided a hail or drown out event that good yields were likely headed your way. In my opinion 2 somewhat related factors for the big yields are:

  1. Lack of Extreme heat. – Moderate Temperatures allowed many seeds to grow at a steady pace to a large size in both Corn and Soybeans. When we get that 3-5 day (or longer) high heat event it really pushes the plant to quickly fill kernels which can lead to smaller kernels/seeds. It can also stress the plants enough where corn kernels or soy blossoms/pods can be aborted. We saw far fewer of those issues this year.
  2. The Long Grain Fill period. – The lack of extreme heat also allowed Kernels and seeds to continue to pack energy into each of those kernels. After harvesting parts of our first 2 fields this year I went and revisited the kernel counts from late summer scouting trips. It became apparent that it was taking far few kernels to make a bushel of corn this year. Seed counts on soybeans are rather low as well.
    • Example: One corn field had an average of 32,000 full ears per acre with an average of 15 kernel rows around and 35 kernels long. The standard formula would utilize 90,000 kernels to make a bu. of corn for a projected yield of 186 bpa.
    • Yet when getting into the field the actual yield was running closer to 235. By reverse  figuring those same average kernel counts the actual number of kernels was running closer to 71,500 kernels/bu.
    • One of the better yield years in the area recently was 2012. That year also had a kernel counts that were in the low 70,000’s per bu. 2012 was also a year with a long grain fill period.
I tend to be conservative with projections as I’d rather be pleasantly surprised that disappointed. However, I am learning my lesson that in years that seem to have a rather long grain fill period we should plan on yield coming from larger kernel size. This year, storage space and basis issues can have a big impact on a bottom line. Excellent problems to have, but managing them better will have a positive impact in the future.

Oct, 27, 2016