From a news release
The official tour began on September 4 and concluded on September 7. With more than 500 corn and 450 soybean fields observed by teams consisting of 85 staff from Great Lakes Grain, AGRIS Co-operative and FS PARTNERS. It has given us a great insight into crop conditions and assessment of final yields.
We are ready to call the corn yield at 183 bushels per acre and are predicting a new provincial soybean yield record of 54 bushels per acre. The weather concerns of the spring slowly gave way to favourable growing conditions in the latter stages of July and August. We certainly had our doubts early in the spring of just what kind of growing season and final results we would experience.
In the end, cob length is longer than last year, row number stayed the same and plant populations were higher than in previous years. All this has come together with favourable weather during grain fill to add to the final yield. While we may be missing a lot of high top-end yield numbers, we are not seeing a lot of low-end yields either. You can get to good average yield with a narrow range in yield.
Corn is not without its issues. The observations reported by staff in the field centered on nitrogen deficiency symptoms in 28% of the fields and gaps in the plant stand. Between missing plants and loss of nitrogen, we may have left some yield on the table. This is a great follow up with your crop sales specialist to put in place a scouting program next year just after emergence to sort out planter issues. Is the gap a missed seed or one that did not germinate? We need to sort out planter performance separate from seed issues.
Soybeans will be the crop we talk about in 2018. Planting dates range from April 30 to end of June. Interestingly enough, planting dates are not explaining estimated yields as much as row spacing. Seven-inch spacing is out yielding wider spacing by as much as five bushels per acre in our estimations.
Thinking back to spring we experienced stand establishment issues. Most fields have substantially lower plant populations. Narrow rows would have canopied earlier this year talking full advantage of the sunshine sooner. Sunlight hitting bare ground does not make beans. Soybeans do compensate for thinner stands with additional branching and more pods.
The pod counts this year were the highest we have seen in nine years of the tour. We count the pods on one ten thousandths of an acre. (1/10,000). We normally use 2.5 beans per pod as a conversion factor. This year we saw many four-bean pods and, as result, we were thinking that the beans/pod should be higher.
We had our interns in the co-operative system collect 300 plants in random fields and do the counts. Much to our surprise the same 2.5 beans per pod average. It would appear while we fixate on four-bean pods, we miss the ones with one or two beans in them.
Yield is a function of the number of pods, the number of beans and weight of the beans. The nodes on the stems are where flowers and pods originate and we saw numerous nodes with as many as six pods and others with only two or none at all. The top nodes had pods in most fields and this is always a good sign. We did observe more nodes on the main stem than usual. This may well be in response to hot weather as there is some experimental evidence to suggest the soybean plant may initiate more nodes as a result.
Weed control in particular on resistant weeds remains a high priority for many farmers. Most weeds have come after the critical weed-free period and have not impacted on yield however the challenge will be at harvest. Some pre-harvest burndown will be required to reduce dirt tag on identity preserved soybeans. Escapes driven by late season rains have brought on Canada Fleabane and Giant Ragweed. Fall weed control will be highly recommended ahead of wheat planting.
We do see an early harvest with corn and soybeans and likely both ready at the same time. A harvest plan for grain quality is advised especially for corn with ear molds. It may be a year where we harvest corn before soybeans. Unless, of course, wheat needs to planted on designated soybean fields.
The full report is available on the Great Lakes Grain website.