Missy Bauer: Expect Variability, Plan Next Season

Variability will likely be the word of the week when Pro Farmer takes off on its annual Crop Tour next week. Wild, unpredictable weather that changed quickly from state to state, and sometimes even field to field means they’ll likely see ears and pods of many shapes and sizes.

“It’s variability [that] you can’t see from the road,” Farm Journal Associate Field Agronomist Missy Bauer told AgriTalk host Chip Flory. “The variability is going to come from the timing of where that crop was when we had all that heat around the Fourth of July.”

If you were in the “kernel abortion stage,” a stage that follows pollination during blister, excessive heat can easily cause tip back. Farmers and agronomists have shared pictures on social media with 2” to even 3” or more tip back.

Above normal temperatures earlier this season put some farmers at risk during pollination and grain fill. To make matters worse, many areas didn’t feel relief during overnight hours.

“If it gets too warm… the corn starts to kind of run backwards,” Bauer said. The plant needs to cool down to promote good photorespiration. 

While it’s time to “wait and see” what yield actually does this season, Bauer is helping farmers prepare for next season. Farm Journal’s Yield Tour, held this week in Murphysboro, Tenn., hosts both corn and soybean sessions to help farmers get 2019 off on the right foot.

“We’re talking about how to make variable rate corn planting populations and multi-hybrid work,” she said. The team is walking through how to make these concepts work in real field environments and if the economics make it pay off. It comes down to nitty gritty details such as soil types, populations, hybrid selection and more, that all work together throughout the season.

“We’re looking at, you know, on average a $15 to $20 an acre return on investment—but that’s when you’re doing it right,” Bauer said. “And that’s key.”

When it comes to soybeans, farmers frequently ask what they can do to increase yields. To attack that issue, Bauer is focusing on pods per plant. 

“That’s where I think our biggest opportunities are to gain soybean yields today,” Bauer said.