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Plan on 2023 being best crop ever, Minnesota scientist says looking at yields despite drought

The University of Minnesota recently released results of 2022 variety trials.

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A field of corn in Renville County, Minnesota, on Aug. 3, 2022. Corn yields were strong in much of Minnesota in 2022.
Jeff Beach / Agweek
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When thinking about which varieties to plant in 2023, Tom Hoverstad of the University of Minnesota, says not to worry too much about the dry late summer of 2022.

“I wouldn’t change any management practices,” said Hoverstad, scientist at the Southern Research and Outreach Center at Waseca. “I would plan on the next crop being the best you ever grew.”

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Tom Hoverstad, scientist at University of Minnesota Extension Southern Research and Outreach Center
University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota recently released results of 2022 variety trials and Hoverstad said the thing that jumped out to him was 200 bushel corn at Lamberton in southwest Minnesota despite a lack of late season rain that has pushed a swath of the state into D3, or extreme drought.

Hoverstad said the strong yields are a testament to the water holding capacity of the soils in the region.

“Here in Minnesota, we are, for the most part, blessed with some soils that can hold a lot of water and that becomes useful later in the season,” Hoverstad said.

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He also said the yields are a testament to the genetics of modern corn varieties.

“I think our modern genetics does tolerate for periods of drought a little better than where we were 20 years ago,” Hoverstad said.

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David Kee, lead researcher for the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council.
Jeff Beach / Agweek

David Kee of the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council encouraged producers to look at the data and reports hitting issues such as disease and pests.

"It's a very unbiased source, good dependable information from them," he said.

Reports are available on barley , canola , corn silage , corn grain , oat , soybean , spring wheat , winter rye and winter wheat .

Moisture amounts in 2023 will be more moderate than in 2022 when weather conditions pivoted from extremely wet in the spring to dry during the growing season.

Kee said he was impressed by the soybeans yields in northwest Minnesota at around 50 bushels per acre despite some very late planting dates.

He said yields also were good among varieties that have not been bred for herbicide resistance.

"Weeds are not our only problem," Kee said, citing soybean cyst nematode, white mold, phytophthora, chlorosis and other issues.

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The 2022 growing season saw some delayed planting by a wet spring for many areas, such as Hutchinson, west of the Twin Cities, where corn wasn’t planted until June. Data shows yields were hurt in that area.

But at Lamberton, where the planting was more timely, corn was able to produce a crop despite falling 10 inches behind normal rainfall. Hoverstad said a lack of extreme heat during the dry spell worked in the favor of farmers.

“It could have been worse had it been 95 to 100 degrees and that dry,” Hoverstad said.

Kee said soybeans also are showing good resistance to environmental stressors, with 2022 being a second consecutive year of wild weather.

"While the yields were not bin busters, they're not empty bins, either," Kee said.

Hoverstad’s comments came as freezing rain and snow were creeping over the upper Midwest. But he said the frost line was already about 6 inches deep and the moisture from the storm would not be likely to sink in.

But he said a spring recharge of soil moisture after the ground thaws out is likely.

One management area corn growers should be concerned about is tar spot. The disease hit areas of southeast Minnesota early enough in 2022 to affect yields.

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While it showed up late enough not to affect yields in other areas, it will likely be back in 2023.

“I think it's something that people need to be learning about this winter,“ Hoverstad said, and that scouting and treatment could be necessary in 2023.

Reach Jeff Beach at jbeach@agweek.com or call 701-451-5651 (work) or 859-420-1177.
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