Field report from a blogger: Drought in central Illinois no worse than media reports

Field report from a blogger: Drought in central Illinois no worse than media reports

The good news is: The U.S. corn crop and drought in Midwest are no worse than is being reported by the media. Television and print media news reports seem to have found the worst fields to broadcast from. I suspect the fields in the news have other yield challenges besides drought, like compacted or sandy soils, late planting, etc. I saw a news report where the (Iowa?) farmer was disking up standing corn, which made no sense. If the corn crop was not worth harvesting, at least let it stand and break the wind to prevent a dust storm. 

I like to report good corn news so I took my camera and headed to one of those "good looking" cornfields. What I found was bad news. 

The biggest and best-looking corn ear I could find was missing kernels at the base, middle of the ear, and at the tip. The ear had 14 rows of kernels, ouch. Ears of corn with 16 to 18 rows are what we raise most years. 

Seed company agronomists are estimating yields as low as 40 bu./acre in fields that were also planted to corn in 2011. I think these estimates are too low and the seed company agronomists are being careful not to get growers' yield expectations too high. Even if their yields are doubled to 80-bu./acre yields, corn will be scarce in the coming year. Most ears of corn are small and poorly pollinated. 

I will have some corn to sell this fall, but it will be scarce and likely expensive. My drought strategy is: Feed less corn silage and harvest a planned silage field as grain. My other forage crops like alfalfa and rye silage have been very productive. I should have plenty of winter feed for our cattle. Of course, we have crop insurance. 

Farmer attitudes are upbeat. Cash corn is $8/bu. for July delivery. Our windshields are not corrupted with corn borer moth carcasses, which is common this time of year. I suspect the heat killed the corn borers before vehicle impact could kill them. 

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