The similarities between this growing season and last are disturbing. Historically, we simply haven't had dramatic rainfall shortages such as have begun about the first week July each year. In fact, only during the spring months do we get anything like normal rainfall lately. The temps speak for themselves.
There is no way of knowing, but the prudent scenario seems to be to prepare for similar weather patterns for 2012. The moisture shortage already baked in (pun intended) means the odds of dryness starting out next year are already higher.
FWIW, here's our strategy:
- 50/50 rotation. We will have to plant about 100 A. of corn-on-corn to get to closer to even numbers of acres, but CoC has taken it in the shorts big time last year and especially this year.
- There ain't nothing in the "stacks" to help with hot nights, so we are valuing expensive corn largely on the basis of ease of planting. If conventional corn repeats its performance from last year versus stacked hybrids, we'll take the money and load up Smart Boxes.
- Rip all the bean ground. Out theory is we need to make the soil capable of absorbing as much of the spring moisture as possible, while still drying out enough plant in good condition. Roots need to be able to go down as deeply as possible as early as possible. And "ponds" are killers.
- More tile. While we are giving serious thoughts to installing control gates in some of our new systems, the need to have ground work/plant right as early as possible means drainage on our heavy soils.
- Vertical tillage. We bought about 1.5 days of planting this year by running a Verta-Till over some fields. If the yields hold up, such hours could be gold. We'll also use it in the fall on corn stubble.
- "Window" planting. We don't seem to get "seasons" to plant, but ~ 72-hour windows. We have to be able to get as much planted as fast as possible and still get it started well.
- More short-season hybrids. Our theory is get pollination and fill over before the race for moisture is over. Also we are moving characteristics like Goss's wilt tolerance and standability up as selection criteria because of the rapid spread of the former and the higher probability of stalk cannibalization.
- Early, wetter (corn moisture) harvests. This year's crop won't handle a normal windy fall October front, let alone a significant storm. Given prices and drying costs coupled with early demand I'll spot Cargill ~50¢ off the $7.60 bid to get it out of the field.
- More bins. Harvest windows must not be negated by elevator lines.
- Possibly adding a second N app, perhaps UAN as sidedress depending on weather after planting.
- Corn head guidance feelers. I think down corn will be present more often rather than the exception.