COLUMBUS, Ohio — One couldn't tell from Ohio's average corn yield that 2005 was a rough season for growers.
Ohio's corn yields are on par with the yield trend line, and better than expected given the weather-related challenges that faced the crop during the growing season. According to the Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service, the state average is 143 bushels per acre, fourth-best in Ohio's corn yield history and tying with production in 1992.
Peter Thomison, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist, said that yields in the Ohio Corn Performance Trial averaged about 20 to 25 bushels lower at test sites in drier southwest Ohio compared to sites in northern Ohio, which received more rain.
"Southwest, south central and parts of central Ohio experienced greater drought stress than northern Ohio. Although corn yields are below the national average (148 bushels per acre), they are remarkable considering what the crop has faced," said Thomison, who holds a partial research appointment with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. "It demonstrates a significant advancement in hybrid genetics that's occurred during the past several years."
Much of the corn crop was replanted after cold, wet weather hit an early-planted crop in April. Follow that up with hot, dry conditions during the summer, which resulted in severe stalk lodging in certain hybrids, and many agronomists were questioning the performance of the crop come harvest.
"Much of the talk has been corn before the April snow versus the corn after the April snow, and it was a mixed bag in terms of performance. Agronomists, seed companies, and Extension educators were saying that it was the worst year they had ever seen in terms of replanted corn," said Thomison. "However, in much of the state it looks like we dodged another bullet and it all had to with the timing of the rains."
And that timing was evident. High yields in northern and western Ohio fields indicated a near picture-perfect growing season, while drought across southern Ohio led to premature death, stalk rot development and subsequent stalk lodging.
"Lodging levels were as high at 100 percent in some hybrids in southwest Ohio. They just couldn't handle the stress and stalk rots, primarily anthracnose and giberella stalk rot," said Thomison. "Reports indicated that some corn was lodging even before it reached maturation. That just showed the magnitude of the problem."
Despite the stalk lodging, growers were still able to salvage their crop and turn out surprisingly good yields.
"Most growers were able to handle lodging, but it required harvesting more slowly which is costly because it consumes more fuel," said Thomison.
Though growers have no control over the weather, they can always improve their crop performance and boost yields by choosing the right hybrids that control for stalk lodging, insects and diseases.
"Overall, we managed to elude major disease problems, like gray leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight and diplodia ear rot, but they will be back at some point in time, so it's important for growers to choose hybrids that show resistance to these yield-limiting diseases," said Thomison.
Ohio State's Agronomic Crops Team has just released the results of the latest Corn Performance Trial to help growers in their management decisions. The report can be accessed at http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/corn2005/.