It’s that time of year again days are getting noticeably shorter, county fairs are in the books, and kids are going back to school. I remember these days well when I was a kid, and the county fair was the last hurrah before two-a-days practice started. The excitement of learning new plays, getting to strap up the pads and hit someone, but with the good comes the not so good. And that not so good was the conditioning at the end. We were always told by our coach that it was up to us how we finished. If we put it all in and left it on the field, then it wouldn’t be so bad, but if we didn’t, then let the punishment begin.
Our crop season isn’t much different than any of that really. We have sat in meetings, developed and studied the playbook. We have strapped it on for full contact action throughout the season, and this is the conditioning portion of our year. This is where good becomes great. This is where every bit of effort and dedication pays off. Enough of the football pep talk…what I am really talking about is how the difference between average years and bin busters is made in the next 2-4 weeks. The right decisions made here can have a huge impact on the profitability of your operation. So, we have to dig down deep and make sure we finish strong.
Roger Elmore did a great study, before he returned to the University of Nebraska, evaluating the dry matter accumulation in the ear of the corn plant. In observing how modern corn hybrids fill the ear, I completely believe the findings of that study which are that 55% of the dry matter in the kernel is accumulated after the plant has reached the full dent stage. This means to truly capitalize on test weight, we have to keep our foot down on the pedal through the late stages of grain fill and make sure the plant doesn’t run out of any of the material it needs to fill an ear to the maximum of its capability. This means keeping an eye out for disease development and managing our water right up to the very end even when, historically, we would be done. We need to manage this crop where it is in the field, not where it should be on a calendar.
In both corn and soybeans, root activity slows a little bit each and every day. This means it is harder for the plant to take up nutrients and water then it was when the plant was growing at full tilt. In both cases we hope most the nutrients we will need to fill the yield requirements is, for the most part, in the plant already, but we are going to have to make sure water is a bit more freely available and in the right part of the root zone. This is where a probe really helps us make sure we are timing our irrigation properly and not under or over applying water as we finish this crop out.
Managing both water and the rate at which a plant reallocates nutrients is a big factor on the harvest timing of our crops. Managing them better will give us greater harvest agility instead of having to go get a field that really isn’t ideal as a result of the stalk quality. Being able to manage all of this, plus having a plan at harvest will really help you optimize each and every decision you have already made this year. In any case or event your CVA Field Sales Agronomist is ready and willing to give you the answers you are looking for.