Planting 2019

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.

Corn Test Plot 2018

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.

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Test Plot Walk Through

Test Plot Analysis

Dennis logging variety information.

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.Green husk

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!broken corn ear

Test plot planting day 2016

test plot follow with ranger

Planting the plot. Ranger follows to help change varieties on the other end.

test plot changing varieties

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

Test Plot Evaluation

test plotFall is the time to evaluate our corn varieties in order to aid in decision making for next year’s planting. leaning cornOur 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. 2015 Plot

Test Plot 2015

test plot varietiestest plotApril 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.

Company Variety Maturity Traits
1 Dekalb DKC44-15 95 VT2P
2 Gold Country 95-33R2P 95 VT2P
3 Dekalb DKC46-37 96 VT2P
4 Wensman W7320 VT3P 101 VT3P No Insect
5 Wensman W7268 95 VT3P No Insect
6 Dekalb DKC46-20 96 VT3 No Insect
7 Wensman W8285 97 VT2P
8 Croplan C3899VT2P 98 VT2P
9 Latham LH9955R2P 99 VT2P
10 Wensman W70975 97 VT3P No Insect
11 Gold Country 99-04R3 99 VT3 No Insect
12 Pioneer P9929AMXT 99 AMXT No Insect
13 Wensman W7320 VT3P 101 VT3P No Insect
14 Gold Country 101-56RSS 101 SS No Insect
15 Golden Harvest G01P52-3011A 101 VT3P No Insect
16 Dekalb DKC50-84 VT2P 100 VT2P
17 Golden Harvest G01P52-GTA 101 RR
18 Dekalb DKC52-85 VT2P 102 VT2P
19 Gold Country GC102-88 R2P 102 VT2P
20 Gold Country GC103-09R2P 102 VT2P
21 Latham LH5215 VT2P 102 VT2P
22 Pioneer P0339AMXT 103 AMXT No Insect
23 Pioneer P0533AM1 105 VT3 No Insect
24 Wensman W7320 VT3P 101 VT3P No Insect

Corn Test Plot Harvest Day 2013

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