Monday, July 16, 2012

Where Can I Buy Some Blinders?

That didn't take long.  Wheat harvest started and finished in 7 days.  Yields were respectable, 80-100 bu/acre, some more, some less.  Pioneer wheat varieties performed well, especially 25R40 and 25R39. 
Dan Mitchell, service manager for Stratford Farm Equipment, phoned last Tuesday wondering why so many farmers were complaining about the poor samples coming from their Case combines especially with varieties like 25R56.  My experience has been tough thrashing wheat is usually a genetic problem.  We were spoiled for years with 25R47 which always produced a clean sample regardless of conditions.  Some of the newer varieties that delivered more yield were not as pleasant to work with.  Hulls glued to the kernel, more cleanout at the elevator and more diesel fuel were the end result of planting this type of wheat. 
Pioneer's new 25R40 takes us back to the easy thrashing days of 25R47 with improved yield potential.  It's family tree includes a connection to 25R47.
The other thing making the situation worse this year was the dry spring.  Dry cold weather in April delayed tiller heads from maturing as quick as the main heads.  Rain in June encouraged the delayed tillers to grow and produce wheat.  These later maturing tiller heads were impossible to work with.  This made Dan's life miserable, but it sure wasn't the combine's fault.

Horse trainers use blinders to block distractions and keep the horse focused straight ahead on the road or track.  The drought has been causing a lot of distractions as I drive down the road.  It is painful to see crops suffer and know that we are powerless to do anything about it.  We are actually lucky in this area.  It is not as bad as it sometimes appears.

The two pictures above are from the same spot in the field.  The top one was taken at 3:00 in the afternoon.  The bottom was taken at 9:00 the next morning.  The best time to evaluate drought stress is early in the morning.  If the corn recovers and the leaves unroll over night the yield loss from drought is almost zero.  Growth and development occurs at night.  If the moisture stress is relieved over night, the plant functions close to normal.  It will sacrifice some plant height, but grain yield potential is still excellent.

This picture was also taken locally and these plants will obviously not recover fully.  The crazy part of farming in our part of Ontario is 10 feet away from this picture I took the next picture.

The two pictures are from the same field and the same hybrid.  Because I prefer to be an optimist, I know which picture I am going to focus on.  I am going to ask my neighbour Don Thomson the ferrier, if he can make me a set of blinders.

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