Great Lakes Grain

Great Lakes Grain

September 16, 2014 08:00 ET

Final Yield and Crop Quality Report for 2014 Crop Assessment Tour

CHATHAM, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Sept. 16, 2014) - The Great Lakes Grain 2014 Crop Assessment Tour has wrapped up. This year GROWMARK FS members from Lucknow Co-operative, Huron Bay Co-operative, North Wellington Co-operative, Sunderland Co-operative, Wanstead Farmers Co-operative, FS PARTNERS and AGRIS Co-operative participated. This year started out slow and cold then turned wet and stayed cool and slowed CHU accumulation. To put things in perspective, we have pulled a quote from last year's summary. The tour took place on the same week as last year.

"Most corn fields were in the R4 - R5 dough/dent stage very few were in the full R5 dent stage. Corn planted in the first week of May with current heat unit accumulations will black layer (R6) around September 20 to 25. It will take until the second week of October to lose six per cent moisture to bring harvest moisture to an estimated 24 per cent. With consideration for weak areas in fields, it is a strong corn crop." September 2013.


This year we are seeing more R3 to R4 milk to dough stage, with only 20 per cent of the crop in early dent stage. We are a little later this year and as we have said, "We need all of September and early October frost free to finish both crops." The early planted corn will not black layer for likely another 20 to 25 days. Higher harvest moistures will be the result, as the number of days available for dry down diminish later into the season.

The current crop despite its delay in maturity has progressed well. Corn in particular continues to show its ability to handle stress. Cob size and increased populations are encouraging to see, however kernel depth is shallower than past years and this will impact on final yields. Soybeans are a similar story as the cool weather has impacted on pod development in terms of number of pods and beans per pod, higher incidence and severity of diseases.

What are the results?

Crop Adjusted bus per Range
Corn 169 135 -245
Soybeans 42.8 25 -68

Observing five years of the tour results, we have seen a steady progression in plant population, general cob size and final yields. This a tribute to not only genetics, but also general increase in adopting better management practices. From corn planters to fertility, tillage and soil management it all adds up to a steady improvement. In 2014 we have had very little stress in the reproductive stages and this has resulted in an increase kernel number and fewer aborted kernels, creating a potential for higher yields.

Cooler night time temperatures throughout the season slowed respiration and conserved more sugar. The final yield will depend on the weather going forward and how fast and how much "sugar" can move to the developing kernels before a killing frost or black layer. Yield calculations vary by kernels per bushel, ranging from 90,000 to 105,000. In 2014 we used 102K seeds/bushel, five kernels per inch.

The chart below shows our yield estimates for corn since we started the tour in 2010. This year's yield appears to be coming from the added kernals per cob and the increasingly consistent stands that growers have been achieving with improved technology.

To view table and graph please click on the following link:

It would appear by our estimates that planting too early into cooler wetter soils lowered yield potential. There was sweet spot between May 10 and May 20 that seems to have offered increased yield potential. Keep in mind these are estimated yields. The same protocol was used by all teams, so the comparisons may be valid while absolute yields may vary. (based on dates provided)

Below is a chart of heat unit accumulation compliments of Weather Innovations and comparing it to some of the other cooler years, 1992 and 2009.

To view table please click on the following link:


The soybean crop has been more impacted by the cooler wetter season. Slow development in some areas delayed flowering and pod development. Pod numbers and beans per pod are lower than past years. Bean size will be smaller under current weather conditions. Environmental conditions for Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS), rhizoctonia, phytophthora, fusarium root rot complexes and white mold was and is ideal for these diseases to develop.

These diseases will lower yields substantially in some areas. We have estimated two to three bushel per acre field loss due to either SDS or white mold with severely infected areas much higher. Within severe areas, SDS could lower yields by 25+ bushels and same for white mold. Differences in a varieties tolerance to disease is readily evident. It is important to go look and diagnose properly as the best defense is in choosing the best varieties.

There is however one question to be asked and answered. In the past ten years how often have soybeans been grown in the field?

If the answer is greater than five, we need to seriously look at changing crop rotations. The diseases we see are building up as direct result of soybeans grown too often in the rotation. We are always looking for seed companies to deliver better resistance and genetic packages. While that's important to moving yield forward, so is good stewardship on our part to have better rotations to stretch the longevity of the traits.

There are a surprisingly large number of pods in the upper nodes that could make yield if the current warm weather and moisture persist for the next 25 to 30 days. At a single node 3, three bean pods at 180,000 plants per acre is ten bushels more yield. This will make it difficult to accurately predict final yields. Nonetheless we think soybeans will likely average close 40 bushels.

The progression of white mold and SDS will continue to take away yield prior to R7 growth stage. Most soybeans were in the R5.5 to R6 stage. If the top pods fill we may be looking at 45 to 50+ bushels in some of the better fields with low diseases pressure.

It is surprising to see how much progress has been made in the past two weeks. Soybeans will adjust for lack of heat by accelerating development by going through each growth stage faster including bean fill unfortunately.

With later planting we will often see a yield advantage to narrow row spacing. This year like last year was no exception as the 7.5 row spacing is estimated to have a three to five bushel yield advantage over 15 and wider row spacing. Closing the row faster and intercepting more sunlight with narrow rows builds yield especially with delayed planting.

To view graph please click on the following link:

Similar to corn planting dates planting earlier into cool soils may have taken away some seed vigour on the soybeans. (based on planting dates provided)

To view graph please click on the following link:

To view graphic please click on the following link:


Despite the gloomy outlooks due to lower rate of CHU accumulation, we have an above average crop in the fields. We will need an open frost free September to finish both corn and soybeans. Being in the fields now, while yield limiting and yield enhancing factors are visible, is invaluable in gathering the necessary observations to making sense of this year's final harvest results and have a solid foundation to plan ahead.

Thanks for participating this year!

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Contact Information

  • Great Lakes Grain
    Don Kabbes
    Market Development Manager

    AGRIS Co-operative & Wanstead Farmers' Co-operative
    Dale Cowan
    Senior Agronomist/Sales Manager