Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Tale of Two Corns

We sampled a corn field this morning. What do you think is the difference between the two sets of ears? Hybrid? Tillage vs no-till? Fertilizer rates?

None of the above, it all came from the same field! This is the same hybrid dropped at 36,000 seeds per acre at the end of April. It had the same fertilizer, same everything but you can divide the field in half. Good corn and not so good corn.

Actually it isn't half like drawing a line. The plants on the left represent the better plants in the row and the ones on the right represent the lesser plants in the row. I think the variation is due to weather and moisture and heat differences in the row from the day it was planted.

The funny thing is it also reflects two different scouts doing the work. LuAnn took the south end of the field, I took the north end. She pulled very uniform stalks and ears. I picked random samples, leaning toward the worst corn because I do so much troubleshooting in fields. My eye just goes to troubled stalks.

The ears on the left are 16 rows around by 45 kernals long. The shortest ear on the right is 18 by 20. The average stand is 33,000 plants approximately though there are 19 ears in the picture from our samples.

I counted about 30 ears wherever I took samples so 19 ears is about 2/3 of one thousanth of an acre. I weighed the bucket of ears we got and it weighed about 10 lbs. One third more would be nearly 14 pounds of ears and there is 70 lbs of ear corn in a bushel, 56 lbs shelled. 200 bushel corn per acre would require 1400 lbs of ear corn. That field should be very close to 200 bushel although you can see the combine is going to miss some corn on the little cobs and broken down stalks on that one broke over stalk.

The stalks are pretty consistent as showed on the left but you see a tiny one on the right, one with stalk borer, and one ear with wildlife damage. The damage from racoon and deer is probably 5% or greater in my estimation. There are patches down the size of a pickup truck.

The biggest thing I noticed is the lack of kernal weight. The corn is on the light and fluffy side due to the extreme heat this summer. I hope that doesn't hurt test weight and yield too much. It did take yield.

The hybrid performed well and I am overall pleased with it. It will be very interesting to compare to the other hybrids on that farm and the one right up the road planted within days of each other. The stand is good, the fertilizer was efficient, the pest problems were moderate and the leaves are fairly clean. But the proof is in the pudding and we won't know the end of the tale until harvest.

Then we will know the end of the Two Corns story this year and wonder what would happen IF and what might happen next year.