The 2017 growing season has wrapped up in many places in the Corn Belt and this is indeed the case on our small eastern Nebraska family farm. Despite various stress throughout the season, both corn and soybeans yields were fairly decent this year.
Our growing season began with one extreme in the spring with too much rain. In just one mid-May week we had more than five inches of rain.
This, in turn, delayed planting, as the soil needed time to dry. We were still attempting to plant soybeans during the Memorial Day holiday week.
Then the rains stopped for several weeks into June. This caused soybeans to emerge from the soil unevenly as the soil developed a crust.
We caught some rains in late June and early July as corn pollination was occurring, however. It was fairly warm during that period of time. Then the second half of the growing season featured stretches of dry weather with some timely rains.
As harvest was just starting to ramp up in early October, we swung back to the weather we saw in the spring. Several inches of rain fell with some areas even seeing storms and hail. Luckily, we missed this uncooperative weather.
The heavy rains weakened corn stalks, and farmers' worst fears were realized with strong winds blowing for a couple weeks in mid-October. Many cornfields in Nebraska saw problems with downed corn.
We had one field with large areas of downed corn. I can't really remember another year in which this was a major problem, and my dad -- drawing from a memory with more years than I -- said the last time he could remember issues with downed corn was probably sometime in the early 1980s.
Despite the all the challenges of the growing season, we were pleasantly surprised by the yields we saw this year.
Soybean yields were probably average to maybe a little above average, but corn yields were fairly high once again. Even the field with much downed corn yielded fairly well.
It is interesting to see the changes in level of corn yields in our area. When I was a kid my dad and uncle were happy when their corn hit triple digits. Then we saw yields jump to around 150 bushel/acre, and now with the right weather we are right at 200 bushels/acre -- not too bad for the rolling hills of eastern Nebraska.
The same, however, can't really be said about soybean yields. While we did grow 70 bushels/acre beans a few years back, it seems like yields with this crop just can't match the advances seen in corn yields.
I guess we have to take the good with the bad.
The coming weeks will bring other seasonal chores, such as putting equipment back in the sheds, weaning our spring calves and moving round bales home from the various hayfields. Usually this will take us into December, and by then Mother Nature closes the door on much more outdoor work.
Then our thoughts turn to the next growing season once again.
Russ Quinn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Russ Quinn on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN
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