There were 526 tests planned this year, run by our 11 Field Managers: independent business owners working together with high standards of test methodology and data collection, providing fast delivery of corn grain and soybean performance information.
The 2019 growing season raised many challenges from start to finish. Persistent spring rains pushed back planting throughout all states, up to prevent plant dates, and several sites could not be planted due to wet conditions. High rainfall continued after planting, causing some emergence problems and ponding on poorly drained areas. Farms in Minnesota saw widespread wind damage from storms in July, and greensnap and lodging made harvest difficult. While a few areas of Nebraska, southern Iowa, Illinois and Pennsylvania had dry spells, the story in late summer was cool weather with fewer GDUs than normal. With late planting dates, it was difficult for the fuller-season hybrids and varieties in the northern states to reach maturity. The fall turned cold early, and killing frosts and snows occurred in October. Poor weather and high grain moistures made harvest as challenging as planting. Widespread liquid propane shortages caused delays in harvesting corn, and late-planted soybean moistures remained very high.
Yields for harvested fields were often higher than plot host expectations, given the wet and cool conditions, and yields were often similar to site averages. This is a credit to the seed industry that produces resilient products. Considering the many difficult situations the plot hosts and Field Managers faced, we were able to harvest more than 80% of the planned tests.
This was a transition year for FIRST data management, and we will bring you more tools and information for making seed product selections in the coming year. We hope our reports and materials will help you find the right products to suit your farm.