Minnesota Farmer

2012 Harvest approaches

It’s August 24 and harvest is approaching faster than we would like.  I’ve been at several farmer seed dealer meetings lately and all are saying we’ll be harvesting our corn before soybeans this year.  So, let’s take a look at what’s happening in the field here in Southwestern Minnesota.

Many corn fields began the turn from green to tan this week.  There are still green leaves on most of the corn which is good for the health of the plant, but the husks on the ear are drying and loosening up.  This is needed for drying of the kernels of corn and is good to see.

If you take a corn stalk and cut it vertically you can see that the stalk is starting to shut down.  There are definite signs that the stalk is taking stored energy from the stalk and putting it in the ear  in a last attempt to get the maximum amount of weight in each kernel.

Corn is a plant that needs a certain amount of heat, once it has had that heat, it shuts down.  In warm years like we have this year you then get an early harvest.  Two years ago we had a cold year, and corn harvest was late.

If you break an ear of corn you will see that the kernels are deep an healthy.  Most ears have 18 rows of kernels but there are a few 16 and 20 row cobs out there.  Most corn has not yet reached “black layer,” a point where the kernel shuts off the connection to the cob, but is still in the “dough” stage, where the inside of a kernel is moist but not watery.  These deep kernels suggest a good test weight which puts more corn in the bin or silo and means more feed value in each kernel.

We will see a bit of a yield reduction here, but how much is hard to tell.  Timing of rain showers and hot dry winds, how much water the corn was able to access out of the soil and farming practices of many types will all have an effect on the final outcome.

Some soybean fields have just started to get a bit of yellow in them.  Soybeans are photo sensitive plants and will grow until the day length tells them that fall is coming.  We rarely see harvest here before the first week in October.  When leaves start to turn on a soybean plant you usually have about 4 weeks before harvest, depending on how wet or dry the weather is.  You can see that the beans on the right will be ready before the beans on the left.  (p.s. this is not my field!)

Our soybeans have a long way to go before the crop is set.  Most pods are still a bit flat and some rain may still help fill out the pods on the greenest plants.  There is nothing new here, this is where we expect our soybeans to be at this time of year.  Soybeans are always hard to guess on yield until you get to harvest.  I’d say yield will be down, but not much.

Our pumpkins plants are stating to loose leaves also, which reveals some nice pumpkins.  We still have some small green pumpkins out there so the plants are not giving up yet.

Our tomato plants are just starting to ramp up production.  We’ve had a few tomatoes in the past weeks, but the plants are loaded with green fruit.  Soon we’ll be looking for volunteers to take some tomatoes off of our hands.

Another plant in the garden that is really starting to produce are the peppers.  Looks like fresh salsa is soon to be on the table.

We’ve also dug the first potatoes and carrots and the late radishes are done.  Some trees are starting to drop their leaves and plant growth is slowing.  Fall is coming and cooler temperatures are here, what a wonderful time of year.









1 Comment so far
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Great article Michael,very informative. The pictures really help tell the story. Thanks for sharing.

Comment by Alyse Cranson

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