Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, October 14, 1995, Image 205

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    Between The Rows
(Contlnuad from Pag* 1)
they brought with them.
In the middle of July, I took
my vacation and left with some
relatively good looking com
plots in the field. I had the
expectation that all that stood
between me and an excellent
com crop was a few good
Unfortunately, they never
came in for us. Rainfall in July
totaled 1.1 inches at Rockspr
ing and 0.8 inches in August.
Not everyone experienced our
July drought but most everyone
got a taste of the dry weather
andhot temperatures in August.
The Pennsylvania crop con
dition dropped from 83 percent
good to excellent com on July
30 to 40 percent good to excel
lent on Sept. 17. The USDA
crop yield estimate for Pennsyl
vania dropped from 118
bushels/acre in early August to
106 bushels/acre in early'Sep
tember. This was the largest
drop in yield during that period
for any state in the country.
As there is with any bad situ
ation, there are always some
positives. This year the posi
tives include the good com
price, the early harvest, the
reduced drying costs, and the
remarkable drought stress that
some fields showed in the late
There were also areas who
avoided the drought and will
end up with the combination of
high yields and good prices that
everyone strives for.
The dry weather also pro
vided u.s an opportunity to eva
luate some practices, hybrids,
and recommendations.
One recommendation that
received a lot of attention was
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the use of the milkline as a
guide for harvesting silage.
Normally, when corn is
harvested at half milkline we
estimate that the whole plant
moisture will be about 65 per
cent, but in past years we have
noticed that this varies any
where from about 58 percent to
70 percent.
This year I harvested several
experiments where the whole
plant moisture was less than 60
percent at half milkline. Conse
quently, the milkline method is
not accurate enough to be used
alone. Ideally, we should moni
tor the milkline development
and start moisture testing just
after it appears on the tip side of
the kernel. This is particularly
true if you are working with
folks who have a fairly narrow
range of moisture that they
want in their silage.
Another interesting aspect
related to silage has been the
silage quality. The textbook
often tells us that the feed value
of drought-stunted com is
80-90 percent of normal. In
several of the past seasons,
however, drought-stunted com
has tested considerably better
than this.
For example, the droughts in
1991 and 1993 occurred early
in the year and the plants were
stunted so the ear-to-stover
ratio was similar or higher than
normal com silage. We also
tended to get some rain late in
both of these seasons, which
allowed the stunted plants to
recover a bit. Several studies
showed superior digestibility of
this stunted com silage com
pared to normal years because
of a good grain to stover ratio,
lower fiber levels, and also
because of less lignification of
the fiber.
In 1995, the drought came
late in the season and was com
bined with high temperatures.
Plant growth was relatively
good and ear development was
generally stunted somewhat.
This made for a silage in soihe
areas with less grain than nor
mal and normal or high lignifi
cation levels. In addition, the
high temperatures likely
reduced the amount of sugars in
the crop because of increased
plant respiration. The end result
has been some higher fiber,
lower energy com silage that
will need more supplementa
tion to maintain expected pro
duction levels.
One positive aspect of this
year’s crop is that much of it
was harvested before kernels
reached black layer and became
too hard, so this should have a
positive effect on silage quality.
Another observation from
this season' is how various
fields withstood the dry condi
tions. In general, com on the
deeper soils, in crop rotations
following sods or soybeans,
and no-till com appeared to tol
erate the drought more than
other com. All of these obser
vations were consistent with
the textbook. One observation
that was suiprising was the pro
ductivity of some com hybrids
that received little summer
Some of our plots at
Rockspring this year have
yielded 100 bushels/acre after
exhibiting leaf rolling for at
least 25 days. This is a testa
ment to the drought tolerance of
some of some of our new
Our hybrid harvest trial data
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I nvA-*
Com Talk, Lancaster Farming, Saturday, October 14,1M&-Paga I
(0«f tmm mm
is not in yet but I expect there
will be large differences in
yield based on my observations
so far. Drought tolerance is a
trait we need to continue to be
focused on in developing and
selecting hybrids for this
Grain harvest has been mov
ing well ahead of normal in
many areas. The early maturity
of the com is due to the rapid
accumulation of GDDs in the
season and the excellent condi
tions for drydown. Early
harvest is essential this year to
hit the moisture targets for high
moisture com and to avoid the
stalk lodging that may be pre
valent later in the season
because of increased com borer
pressure and thin stalks.
Given the kinds of weather
extremes we have anymore, we
may experience monsoons in
November anyway.
Two issues you may want to
monitor more closely this year
are com borer infestation and
harvest losses. With the high
temperatures that we had, we
have some fields that have fair
ly high com borer infestations.
Com borer infestation levels
are not always apparent from
the roadside or combine seat,
although ear drop and broken
stalks are a tip-off to the
To assess the number of com
borers per plant, split the stalks
and count the number of tun
nels you find. Do this on 5-10
plants to get a good average for
the field. Also look for com
borers in the ear and shank.
This winter, you’ll hear alot
about com borer resistant com.
This information will help you
decide if a resistant hybrid has a
place on your farm. Entomolo
gists are estimating about 3-S
percent yield loss/borer/plant.
Along with this, estimating
yield losses, particularly with
later harvested fields, would be
a good idea. Count the number
of kernels in a 10 square foot
area. Every 20 kernels in this
area represents 1 bushel/acre. If
there are many ears on the
ground, estimate the earloss
separately by counting the ears
in l/100th of an acre. Each
V* pound ear in this area or its
equivalent represents one
bushel per acre.
Com borer and harvest loss
information will be valuable in
assessing the response to the
new corn borer resistant
hybrids that will be available
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