Increased GDUs Hurried Crop through Grain Fill Period
We’ve all heard the expression, “Haste makes waste.” When we hurry through a job, the job is not done as well or as thoroughly as it could have been. The same is true for corn production. The increased growing degree units hurried this year’s crop through the fill period, thus reducing yield in most instances.
The following statistics provide a seasonal comparison originating from the temperatures and growing degree units over the past 34 years at my farm near Tekamah, Neb. You’ll see comparisons between the 2011 season and last year, plus two other particularly challenging years. Pay close attention to the nighttime lows greater than or equal to 700F, the high greater than or equal to 900F, and the days with a low greater than or equal to 700F and a high greater than or equal to 900F.
As noted in an earlier post, when night-time temperatures do not fall below 70 degrees, plants don’t get time to rest. When the plants don’t rest, they continue to work excreting sugars through open stoma rather than utilizing those sugars for grain fill. The plants run out of energy causing tip back on ears and reduced yield.
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Does the late planting combined with limited rainfall and extreme heat mean that this fall’s harvest will be bad? No, most farmers will still get a good crop. It’s just that this year’s crop will most likely not reach its full yield potential. For example, a 20% yield loss on a field that had a 220-bushel per acre potential will still see yields of 175 to 180 bu/A.