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Curveballs of the 2014 Crop

Published on Monday, June 16, 2014

This past week’s travels have taken me about 2,000 miles from central IN, to northern IL, southern OH, northern OH, and northeastern IN. It’s been a big week! The best part of all is that I found another interesting toilet picture that I can share with you at a later date.  As strange as our weather has been lately, and as variable as crops look, I thought it would be beneficial to share not only pictures, but some agronomic information from this week’s journey. 




Many fields in southern Ohio have experienced localized heavy downpours of rain in recent weeks. Some fields have been replanted, only to have another rain event fall shortly after. These areas will most likely not be replanted again. 



This is another field from Ohio. However, fields that look like this exist throughout the Beck’s marketing area. These fields may have emerged evenly, but subsequent heavy rains are unmasking all of the slight nuances a field has to offer. Slight variations in soil type, crop growth stage, compaction layers, residue spread, slope, use of row starter or not, and herbicide programs, are just a few factors that will contribute to uneven height and color throughout a field. When those extreme weather events don’t take place or are not quite as severe, it’s amazing the difference it can make. These water-logged root systems aren’t functioning properly, accessing nutrients and oxygen. 



Here is a field division between corn and soybeans in central Indiana. Although this area has experienced heavy rains, those rains may have not been as severe as southern Ohio or some of the above named factors are different. This crop is a little behind what it would normally be this time of the year, but evenness of plant color (indicator of plant health) appears to be much better here. 



Northern IL, like most of the Beck’s marketing area, has experienced sudden swings from good growing conditions to not so good. All of us have experienced growing conditions like this. If you are in southern IL it has been in the 80s or 90s. But also, as of late, it has been cloudy and rainy with temperatures in the 50s and 60s. Wrapped and twisted whorls in corn fields followed by the top newly emerged leaves being yellow is a phenomenon that is or will be creeping up in some fields. I took this picture in northern IL. This “twisted whorl syndrome” is often times blamed on herbicide injury, but usually not the case. The exact cause is not completely certain. However, it seems to follow weather patterns of excellent growing conditions followed soon after by poor conditions or vice versa. Commonly around V5 or V6, the whorls of the corn plant wrap or twist. The pressure from the younger leaves as they continue to grow inside the whorl, causes the plant to bend or twist, sometimes wrinkling the appearance of the leaves. When the young leaves finally emerge, they are yellow in appearance. They have been needing some sun! You or I would look white if we lived in a cave for a year. Corn plants upper-most fully developed leaves will turn yellow.

As we return to normal growing conditions, the plants will return to normal with all memory of these symptoms vanishing. No yield loss is usually attributed to this syndrome. 




West of Lafayette, IN, around the IN/IL line, stands a corn field with the rows completely closed. This field, from appearance, looks to have no problems. These fields were present all along my journey this week. This demonstrates the variability in localized heavy downpours of rain and what happens if you were not in one of those areas. Also to keep in mind, earlier planting this year may have led to plants further along in growth stages before the heavy rains fell. These larger plants with bigger root systems will be able to handle any additional stressor that comes their way.

The 2014 crop has presented us with some challenges early on. But, you know what? Every crop does. And personally, this is why I love working with the American farmer. By nature, the American farmer seems to handle adversity better than most of us. They have realized some things are out of their control. They have learned to do those things they can control to the best of their ability and leave the rest in God’s hands. The American farmer embodies the serenity prayer. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

We could all use a little more “farmer” in us when life throws it’s lovely little curve balls. God bless the American farmer!

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Ryan McAllister
Ryan McAllister>

Ryan McAllister

Practical Farm Research Director at Beck's.

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Full biography

Practical Farm Research Director at Beck's.


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