I just read an article from Corn and Soybean Digest by John Pocock. The main trust of the article is that 250- bushel average corn yield will be the norm by 2025. If that is the average there will be above average farmers averaging 300 bushels. The story states that to attain those yield goals either more irrigation is needed or a drought tolerant corn will need to be planted.
In order to reach 200 bushels a corn plant needs around 22 inches of water uptake. To reach 300 bushels the plant would need close to 33 inches of water uptake. The problem is that it usually only rains 16-21 inches a year in the corn belt.
I have two thoughts on that, instead of a focus on irrigation, increase the water infiltration rate of your soil. Corn variety won’t matter if you soil has as hard pan 4” down, the best hybrids will fail.
If your soil is a silt loam, it is going to hold about 2” of water per foot. If you topsoil is 5’ deep then the soil could hold 10” of water. In the case of the field in my previous blogs, I could only push a shovel in about 4”. That soil will only hold a little over 1/2” of water! Anything over that 1/2” will sit on the surface and evaporate or runoff.
With all the rain this we have had this fall, your soil profile should be full. However if you have a hardpan, sealed soil surface do to incorrect salt levels or over tillage, than most of the rain it ran off to the nearest river or lake. SuperCal SO4 pelletized gypsum, helps open you soil so more water goes into the soil to be available for plant use next spring.
The Blogronomist is maintained by Craig Dick, head blogronomist and VP of Sales and Marketing. Here you will find a wide array of blog articles from Craig and expert guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!