CropStop — The Effect Of “zippered Ears” In The Waverly, Iowa, Area


Jim White of Waverly, Iowa, farms about 1,200 acres of row crops with a brother, and they feed about 600 head of cattle. He’s also sells for Channel brand seed. “It’s been really tough,” White says, of the crop season. The farm hadn’t had a total of 1 inch of rain from June 20 to the first week of August, when they picked up about 1.5 inches.

White says in the past three years he’d averaged 205 to 217 bushels per acre of corn. “We’re hoping for 100. We might be pleasantly surprised. For every tough spot you’ve got to have something that’s twice as good to level it out.” Rain has been spotty. The White’s other farm on the other side of the county might yield 150 to 175 bushels, he says.

“West of here six or eight miles, the ground’s a lot lighter and they’re zeroing it out,” he says.

Late rains may have been helped some of the late-maturity corn, but the majority of it wouldn’t. He had some 111-day corn that was denting Aug. 17. “Using 90,000 kernels per bushel is going to short you” on yield. He is advising farmers to go to 105,000 kernels per bushel to estimate yield because the kernels are smaller.

“Typically, for example, we’d take 16 kernels around by 30 long times planting population of 34,000 plants per acre,” he says. Typically we’d divide that number by 90 for a rough estimate of yield. We’re deviding that by 95,000 or 105,000, because the kernels are smaller. It’s going to take more to make a bushel, it’s going to drop your yield.”

Farmers were chopping corn on light ground and would range from 15- to 25-bushel per acre, he says. “But that’s poor ground. “We haven’t really seen anybody chop anything that’s not pretty much dead.” There are cattle feeders and dairies in the Waverly, Iowa, area. Four new ones are operated by Dutch immigrants.

Soybeans had held on well.  Rains in late August were expected to  bring soybean yields to “the low end of what normal would be” in the 40- to 45-bushel per acre range. Normally, farmers here expect 50- to 55-bushels per acre. “Guys are hoping something will turn out good, and maybe it’s the bean crop that’ll surprise them, make them a little feel better about going into the combine and watch stuff going into the tank, versus something that’s pretty poor.”

Ten steps into the field shows what White is talking about – a good stand, bottom leaves burnt, but ears here are “zippered” with bland spots on one side, a lot shorter ears. “It looks to be the same kernel girth, 16-18 rows around, but there’s a huge difference. The corn still looks nice and green up-top, but for the amount of moisture we’ve had I’m surprised it’s still this green,” he says. “Guys are going to be

 “We haven’t seen this since 1998, but people are hoping that genetics and root masses – and we’re thinking back to those days when we were planting 22,000 to 24,000 plants per acre – so we’re up 10,000 plants per acre, on average, from what we were doing then. Even the difference in 10,000 ears per acre – even if they’re small – we’re hoping will make up some of that lag. A 30 percent reduction from 130 back then versus a 30 percent percent reduction from 200 bushel is still quite a difference.”