It’s been a long crop year. I’m finally getting around to posting after the most trying crop year of my farming career! 2018 ended with a lot of moisture in the ground. Spring 2018 brought a lot more snow and then unending rain. We did get our crop in the ground but not in a timely manner. We did manage to get our corn test plot planted during one narrow window of opportunity.
We harvested some or our corn prior to harvesting any soybeans in 2018. This is unusual but has happened in the past. Corn stalks were becoming brittle and the grain moisture was in the 22-23% range. After a long summer of nothing but rain, more rain and large drowned out areas we braced for the worst. We we very surprised at that corn yields!
Our test plot was harvested early in the season. I don’t like to wait for the plot corn to dry too much. I want to see how the varieties vary in their abilities to dry down. This extra knowledge helps us plan varieties for the following crop year. We were able to situate the location of the plot to avoid areas of the field prone to becoming water logged.
Dennis and I like to walk through our test plot pre-harvest to get a feeling for how varieties are performing ahead of combining them. The rains this year presented a challenge in getting this done in a timely manner. We exited the field with a large amount of mud on our boots.
While surveying the plot we do a stand count to see what percent of our planted stand put on a harvestable ear. We also look for health problems that are presenting themselves. This will give us an idea of what’s going on in the fields that are planted to a particular variety that’s also in the test plot. If a plant has stalk weakness or ears are already hanging down, then we know that we’ll need to keep a close eye on the field we’ve planted that variety in. If that variety isn’t in the field, we probably won’t consider it for planting another year. This is a great reason to have your own test plot rather than just looking at numbers on paper!
Planting the plot. Ranger follows to help change varieties on the other end.
Not everyone likes having their picture taken.
Every year, Otto Farms puts in a test plot for corn varieties. Our limit is 24 and we made it to 21 this year. That’s a lot of seed boxes to empty and refill every 500 feet of planting! We plant 3 varieties on each pass. 4 rows/variety. We couldn’t have picked a better day. Beautiful weather with light winds and short sleeve temperatures.
Below is the lineup of varieties that made it into our plot this year. These are varieties we are planting in our field as well as varieties we would consider planting in future years. Most of the varieties are double stacks meaning that they are roundup and corn borer resistant. We have a couple that add in root worm resistance as well. When the double stack varieties are planted in the field we add an insecticide in the seed furrow to control corn root worm as well as other in-ground insects. Continue reading →
Fall is the time to evaluate our corn varieties in order to aid in decision making for next year’s planting. Our test plot consists of 24 – 4 row strips planted 600′ long. Walking through the plot prior to harvest helps us learn about the strengths and weaknesses of each variety. This year we looked at how many harvest-able ears we have per acre along with how many of the ears were significantly under sized in our opinions. We also looked at the stalks and how much goose-necking they were doing. This year presented us with some strong winds along with a round of hail. The hail damage to the corn was minimal but the wind definitely put the stalks to the test. Now we wait for the combine and weigh wagon to give us the final results.
April 28th was test plot day. We have 22 varieties in our plot this year from 6 different companies. About 1/2 the varieties are Roundup/corn borer traited. The other varieties also include at least one root worm trait. No insecticide was put on the corn with root worm traits. Wensman 7320 VT3P was place in the plot 3 times to look for variation from one side to the other.
As we work our way through harvest, one of the events we look forward to is harvesting our corn test plot. A lot of time and thought go into choosing hybrids for this plot. This plot is an extremely vital part of our operation’s decision making process for the next year’s corn varieties.
Because our operation focuses heavily on corn varieties that use hybrids with less insect traits than the companies are pushing, there is little plot data available to help us make decisions on these hybrids. This is a part of our broad plan to deal with corn insect resistance issues. Continue reading →