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Corn, soybeans look deceptively robust

Staff writer

Fields of soybeans and corn look as vibrant as any in recent memory, but looks aren’t everything.

“The corn is deceiving this year,” farmer Don Kraus of rural Marion said last week. “Don’t get me wrong; it’s a good crop. But it isn’t as good as it looks from the road.”

The beginning of the growing season was too cool and wet, he said. The reason fields look so good from roadsides is because the rows on the edges received more sunlight and warmth than the interior rows.

The difference between roadside rows and interior rows was visible from the higher vantage while driving a swather. On his way to cut hay in eastern Marion County, Kraus pointed out how just a few rows into a field, the corn wasn’t as tall or full as it was at the roadside.

The effect is more pronounced for no-till fields, Kraus said. Fields that were tilled or had stubble burned off had darker surfaces that became warm earlier.

He said he didn’t expect corn yields to be as high as they were in 2009, but area farmers probably will be happy they planted corn.

Kevin Suderman of Cooperative Grain and Supply of Hillsboro said 2010 has been good and bad for corn.

“Right now, some of our corn looks really good, but until the yield is in the bin, I don’t get too excited,” he said.

Farmer Jon Thole of rural Marion shared Suderman’s caution about estimating yields.

“We ourselves don’t know how it will turn out until we get out there cutting it,” Thole said.

Weather in the next three weeks could have a significant influence on soybean yields, Suderman said. Ideally, temperatures will be in the 85- to 90-degree range.

“Hundred-degree heat is pretty hard on the flowers on soybeans,” he said.

Early flooding created delays for some farmers.

“I had to replant soybeans,” Thole said. “The soybeans this year are shorter in stature than last year.”

Thole said 2009 was an excellent year for soybeans. He expected yields this year will be good, but not as good as 2009. A lot of that depends on the weather this month.

“August is a critical time for soybeans,” Thole said.

Soybean fields need more rain to produce the best yields, and another rain could help the test weight of corn, Kraus said.

Last modified Aug. 4, 2010

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