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Mother Nature plays havoc on northern Illinois corn test plot

Illinois Correspondent

WINNEBAGO, Ill. — Jason Beyers summed up the performance of hybrids on Eric Swanson’s farm in Ogle County in a short sentence: “Mother Nature wasn’t kind.”

And it is easy to see from the results of the three tests that when it comes to producing corn in big quantities, Mother Nature’s timing is everything. For all three groups of corn hybrids, rain didn’t fall at the right time, said Beyers, Farmer’s Independent Research of Seed Technologies (F.I.R.S.T.) site manager.

“Especially the first two tests (ultra-early and early), they went through without very much rain before pollination, and that makes all the difference in the world,” said Beyers, who noted yield totals were generally half of what the plot produces year after year.
“We usually get somewhere around 250 bushels an acre on this site consistently, but there was such little water. One thing that comes out with these tests is that it really shows which hybrids can tolerate very little water and still produce something.”

Beyers said planting conditions were perfect, when corn went in on April 25 and was harvested Oct. 10. The soil on Swanson’s plot in northern Illinois is a rich loam, with moderate levels of P and K and a pH of 6.5.

In the ultra-early-season test, the first spot went to Beck’s variety 5114A4, with a yield of 87.1 bushels per acre and a gross income of $657 per acre. Second place went to Pioneer P0533AMI, with an 83.5 bushel performance and gross income at $626.
The third-place finisher was Golden Harvest variety H-7891 3000GT with 73.6 bushels per acre and a gross income of $555. Moisture levels for the top three were all abnormal, at 17, 18.3 and 17.1 percent, respectively, Beyers said.

In the early-season test, Renk variety RK752SSTX finished first with a yield average of 82.3 bushels and gross income total of $615 per acre. Beck’s Phoenix 5385A3 finished second at 81.3 bushels per acre and income of $604.

In third place was LG Seeds variety LG2549VT3 with an 80.9 bushels per-acre yield and gross income at $605 per acre.
Moisture levels in this test were noticeably higher, with an average overall of 19.2 percent. The top three finished at 19.2, 20.9 and 19.2 percent moisture, respectively.

For the full-season results, yield was better because of additional rainfall in late summer, Beyers said: “The fuller-season hybrids definitely did better than the shorter ones.”

Finishing in the top-yielding spot for the full-season test was Pfister’s 2574SS, with a yield of 115.6 bushels and a gross income of $855 per acre. In second place was Great Lakes variety 6354G3VT3 at 108.6 bushels and income at $802. In third place was AgriGold’s A6533VT3, at 105.4 bushels and income at $778 per acre.

Beyers noted a late July rain helped with the pollination of the later-season varieties and that plant health overall was good.
“Mother Nature is still the main instigator, rather than science, when it comes to corn,” Beyers said. “This year she played her trump card.”