Thursday, September 27, 2012

Out of State

So yesterday morning I flew to Sioux Falls, SD.  (And boy were my arms tired.)  We have several research plots out there, and me being Senior Research Manger, went out to take a late season assessment.  First stop was to see our friends at Hefty Seed/AG PHD.  They can do replicated research plots now.  But first stop was at the Blank Slate field.  If you don't know the details of the Blank Slate, well you better get caught up.  It was harvested last week, and due to the drought, yield was lower than desired.  The flat ground yielded pretty well, around 170 Bu/A.  But much of the sloped ground, and there is plenty of that, yielded zero.  Below plot researcher Brad Farber and Darren Hefty look at a dropped ear from the good ground.  It was big and full, like we wished they all were.
Much of the Blank Slate is sloped and, due to earlier abuse, has much topsoil erosion.  We noticed that many of the stalks on the slope were leaning to the North after a wind event in August.  Without good topsoil, the stalks and roots just weren't strong enough to stand up to the wind. 
But on the flat ground where there was good black topsoil, the stalks were straight up, and not bent over from the wind.  Darren said this was apparent during harvest where they really had to slow down on the slopes to pick up the corn, that really had no ears anyway.
At the bottom of a slope, there was a big dropped ear and a corn plant we dug up with a massive root system.  So this was the potential if not for the drought.  They are trying to build organic matter with high yielding corn, and reduce the erosion by leaving the residue.
We then went over to the research plots.  We have some nitrogen on corn treatments and some foliar fertilization of soybeans, shown below.  Again, it is a tough year for corn, but the soybeans look pretty good.  You can tell this is research because there are colorful flags out there.
However, in the afternoon, I drove about 40 miles South to another research plot site with another researcher.  Here the drought was most severe.  The corn only had tiny ears, and we decided not to even harvest the plots.  The researcher said growers fields around here were only going 10 bu/A.  That is so sad.  I mean it's not cheap to plant corn these days, and those yields make it worse.
Here are some ears from the plots.  Even my prejudiced eye could not attribute treatment effects.
Meanwhile back at the NCRS, I arrived back this afternoon to find the field crop crew busy with soybean harvest on new Farm 11.  These were long rows, over 1000 feet.  But the yields were very good, around 70 bu/A following CRP.  Lucky us.
Stephanie documents the yield from a plot.
So it was an interesting trip, and I always enjoy seeing the Hefty folks.  Back to harvest tomorrow.