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Harvest Weather Forecast: Light Rain and Frost Moves Through Early in the Week

Seed Genetics DirectCold air will invade the region in a big way as we finish this weekend and move into next week. However, overall, the state stays well below normal on precipitation. The cold air will trigger a threat of moisture later Monday and Tuesday over the northern third of the state, but moisture totals stay very light.

The weekend finishes with partly to mostly sunny skies for Saturday and Sunday. Temps are cool, but not cold. A reinforcing shot of cold air comes in overnight Sunday night and parks over the state through Wednesday. This period will give frost and freeze conditions each overnight and a true end to the growing season for summer crops in areas where that has not happened yet.

However, a hard freeze that would send winter crops into dormancy is not likely. The cold air will also bring more clouds around, particularly in the northern part of the state. The clouds can trigger some scattered to light precipitation overnight Monday night through Tuesday. Totals will be no more than a few hundredths to a tenth or two, but we likely see slow to non-existent drying in northern locations those days. We should be precipitation free on Wednesday. The rest of the state will see very slow drying in the colder days, but we expect harvest will grind forward, especially on corn.

A major patter shift comes on the backside of this cold airmass Thursday through the weekend and early next week. Temps move sharply to well above normal levels. Evaporation ramps up and we will see excellent drying and a wide open harvest window. Temps will be likely 10-20 degrees above normal for Friday through next weekend and Monday the 24th.

Extended Period:

Clouds increase the 25th and scattered showers show up overnight the 25th into early the 26th. Rain totals look to be .1”-.5” with coverage at 60%, skewed central and southern IN. Then for Thursday the 27th we can see another system that brings .1”-.7” with coverage at 90%. That system draws down colder air to finish the month of October. But we will shift back dry for the week to start November.

Weeks 3 & 4:

Near normal temps and near normal precipitation for the first half of November. We have a drier bias in week 3 vs. week 4, but still look to be mostly trouble free for those weeks as they relate to harvest.

Week 3 Precipitation v. Normal:

Week 3 Temps v. Normal:

Week 4 Precipitation v. Normal:

Week 4 Temps v. Normal:


What is “Tip Back” in Corn and What Does it Mean?

Each year as corn harvest approaches and the anticipation for finally being able to get behind the wheel of the combine heighten, it is not uncommon to find work benches, dinner tables, and agronomist office desks full of corn ears. Examining corn ears from your fields each year can help provide an estimate of what the yield might be, however examining corn ears prior to harvest can also help paint the picture of how the corn plant was impacted throughout the year, and why your yield maybe wasn’t as good as you hoped.

One of the biggest concerns observed on corn ears examined in 2022 is that of “tip back”. Tip back can be described as corn ears that did not fill kernels from the base of the ear all the way to the tip of the ear, thus ear tips may exhibit some length of missing and/or incomplete kernels

There are two main reasons for tip back, which include 1) poor pollination, causing the absence of kernel formation and 2) kernel abortion. First, it is important to remember that the silks that emerge last from an ear during pollination and the kernels that fill last during grain fill are located on the tip of the ear. Therefore, any significant stresses exhibited shortly before pollination, during pollination, and shorty after pollination can negatively impact these “youngest” kernels.

If many of your corn ears exhibit tip back, then examine the tips of the ears closely to understand the cause of the problem. Poor pollination can occur when stressful conditions occur a few weeks prior to and during pollination (e.g., silk and tassel emergence). For example, drought conditions can delay silk emergence and cause poor synchrony between pollen drop and silk emergence. In addition, since the last emerging silks are located at the tip of the ear, pollen drop (which occurs only for 7-10 days) can be completed prior to silk emergence, thus causing the ovules (potential kernels) at the tip of the ear to never be pollinated.

In contrast to missing tip kernels caused by poor pollination, kernel abortion can be identified by shrunken and shriveled kernels on the tip of the ear. Kernel abortion is mainly caused by stresses that reduce plant photosynthetic output (e.g., drought, hail damage, nutrient deficiencies, foliar disease) during the first several weeks following pollination and through the R3 (milk) growth stage. Even consecutive days of cloudy weather can reduce plant photosynthesis enough to cause kernel abortion.

Overall, any plant stresses that limit photosynthetically active leaf area or the photosynthetic “factory” of the corn plant, can cause tip fill problems in corn. One example of this were the June drought conditions observed in certain areas of Indiana in 2022, which coincided with the rapid growth phase of corn, and thus limited total plant photosynthetic output, or the total “factory”, needed for grain fill.

Now, is all tip back bad? Well, the answer is no, not always. For example, in certain years, ideal environmental conditions present during corn ear size formation (i.e., kernel row number from V6 to V8 and kernel number per row from V6 to a few weeks prior to pollination) may cause ear size to be larger than normal and causing tip back to appear despite high yield conditions. Therefore, if tip back is observed, it is still important to examine total kernel numbers per ear to understand the extent the potential yield impacted.

Dan Quinn, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Agronomy

Extension Corn Specialist


Twitter: @PurdueCorn

Railroad Union Votes Down Labor Contract, Strike Looming

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters rejected a tentative labor contract brokered between rail carriers and workers’ union reps. The third-largest rail workers union in the country was the first union to say no to a deal brokered in part by the Biden administration. The union voted the deal down 6,646 to 5,100.

President Tony Cardwell told Politico that workers “resent the fact that management holds no regard for their quality of life, illustrated by their stubborn reluctance to provide a higher quantity of paid time off, especially for sickness.”

Negotiations will restart, resetting the countdown on a potential strike. The union says it will delay any strike until five days after Congress reconvenes.

Four other unions approved the tentative agreement. However, every one of the 12 unions representing employees must ratify their contracts to prevent a strike. Voting will be finished by mid-November.

Indiana Companies Collaborate to Drive Innovation for Row Crop Farmers

Beck’s, CountryMark, Co-Alliance, and Central Indiana Ethanol announced last week a collaboration with ClearFlame Engine Technologies to drive efforts that are expected to benefit row crop farmers through an innovative technology that decarbonizes heavy duty diesel combustion engines by enabling the use of any biofuel, including 100% ethanol (E98), as truck fuel.

“This is the first step in bringing ethanol to the forefront of engine technology,” said Scott Beck, president at Beck’s. “Our partnership with CountryMark, Co-Alliance, and Central Indiana Ethanol enabled the fueling of the truck during our pilot, highlighting the strides that Indiana agriculture companies can bring to the entire industry.”

Co-Alliance staff fill fuel pump at Beck’s.

With the integration of ethanol in engine technology, it has the opportunity to drive demand and production for ethanol for row crop farmers across the nation.

“The speed and agility with which the Indiana ethanol fuel coalition was able to come together to provide E98 fuel to our truck with Beck’s goes even further to underscore how easy it will be for ClearFlame’s technology to rapidly scale for fleets across the country,” said BJ Johnson, ClearFlame co-founder and CEO. “Ethanol is already distributed through fuel terminals nationwide. In addition to being widely available, it’s proven to be a much greener fuel, with substantially lower carbon emissions than diesel, and critically, significant cost savings.”

As Beck’s represents ClearFlame’s first official pilot, the truck is accumulating miles and driving long distances in a range of operating conditions, with short haul routes between Beck’s Indiana locations that include a variety of different load types.

Beck’s represents ClearFlame Engine Technologies first official pilot.

“This pilot affords us the opportunity to better learn how the ClearFlame technology works and what can be improved to better meet consumer demand,” said Belinda Puetz, director of marketing at CountryMark. “A great deal of attention is being placed today on battery electric vehicles and that is not a wise energy choice for hard to electrify sectors, like long-haul trucks and production agriculture. Technologies, like ClearFlame, can be part of the solution to meet the future needs of our customers.”

ClearFlame expects to achieve commercialization of its engine modification technology by the end of 2023.

Hurricane Ian Damages Fertilizer Production Facilities in Western Florida

One of the top producers of phosphate in the U.S. says their fertilizer production facilities in west central Florida were negatively impacted by damage caused by Hurricane Ian.

According to the Mosaic Company, their phosphate production could be down by approximately 200,000-250,000 tonnes, split roughly evenly between the third and fourth quarters of 2022. Repairs are expected to be completed over the next 1-2 weeks.

In addition to production impacts, the timing of shipments was also affected by the storm. Phosphates sales volumes in the third quarter are now expected to total 1.60-1.65 million tonnes, as port and rail closures delayed late third quarter shipments to October. Mosaic plans to provide further updates when it reports third quarter results.

According to Mosaic’s website, their North America business accounts for approximately 34% of estimated annual potash production and 74% of estimated annual production of concentrated phosphate crop nutrients in North America.

As Mosaic completes repairs, The Mosaic Company Foundation is also donating $100,000 to its most hard-hit operating areas. These funds will be used to support local recovery efforts in Florida’s Hardee, Manatee and DeSoto counties. Prior to hurricane season beginning, Mosaic provided $55,000 in storm preparation funds to organizations across Central Florida.

Source: The Mosaic Company.

Barge Operator Can’t Make Deliveries Due to Dry Mississippi River

The largest barge operator in the U.S. told its customers last week that it won’t be able to make good on deliveries due to the shrinking Mississippi River. Bloomberg says Ingram Barge Company declared a force majeure in a letter to customers because of the “near-historic” low water along the Mississippi River.

The river is the top way to get American grains exported to the world market. Drought has dropped the water level far enough that ships are beginning to run aground. The U.S. Coast Guard is responding to stuck vessels in at least two places, including Stack Island between Louisiana and Mississippi and upriver near Memphis.

American Commercial Barge Line, another shipping company that uses the river to transport goods, says the drought is causing the most severe impact on navigation since 1988. The logjam comes at the worst time as grain harvest is in progress, and supplies will pile up.

Drought Conditions Cover 321 Million Acres of Crops

Drought intensified in many of the nation’s top corn-growing states during the past week. Nationally, 321.6 million acres of crops are experiencing some level of drought, while more than 31 million beef cattle across the country are living with drought.

The latest drought monitor map shows a pocket of D2 severe drought emerging in Illinois with poor crop conditions and low hay yield in that region.

While drought conditions in Texas have improved recently, pockets of D4 exceptional drought are still present in one percent of the state. D3 extreme drought covers 12 percent of Texas.

Drought also intensified in Minnesota, which saw its first area of D3 extreme drought since last December. Wisconsin’s D2 severe drought in the northwest corner spread out to cover four percent of the state. A small part of Iowa is experiencing D4 exceptional drought, while five percent of the Hawkeye State is experiencing D3 extreme drought.

Purdue Extension Seeks to Build Community Resilience After a Natural Disaster

Purdue Extension is continuing its role serving as an administrative lead for the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) and expanding disaster education response throughout America. EDEN, a multistate collaboration of land-grant Extension Services, including 1862, 1890, 1994, Hispanic-serving institutions and Sea Grant programs, aims to reduce the impact of disasters through research-based education.

Since 2003, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has provided EDEN with funding to support coordination, communications and resource development. Principal investigator Jason Henderson, director of Purdue Extension and senior associate dean of the Purdue College of Agriculture, and co-principal investigators Michael Wilcox, program leader of Purdue Extension’s Community Development Program, and Abby Lillpop, National EDEN project coordinator, recently received additional funding to advance agrosecurity and community resilience through Extension program innovations.

As part of its national coordination of EDEN, Purdue Extension has outlined new goals to ensure its effectiveness and long-term success. The first goal is to protect U.S. agriculture and food systems during all phases of disasters by expanding Cooperative Extension’s educational resources and programming. Secondly, Purdue plans to expand opportunities for Extension to engage and improve the quality of life in underserved communities by furthering the capacity of the current 1890 Extension system to deliver disaster programming.

“Rural communities and agriculture are disproportionately vulnerable when it comes to natural disasters as damage is often not covered by risk-management agencies. Through partnerships at the local level, EDEN is vital in helping communities recover when disaster strikes,” Henderson said.

Purdue Extension has invested in developing Community Organizations Active in Disasters (COAD) to prepare communities to rapidly respond to weather-related disasters, resulting in coverage of nearly 75 percent of Indiana’s 92 counties. In partnership with the University of Illinois, University of Nebraska, University of Missouri and Washington State University, EDEN is prioritizing developing COADs across the nation to partner with local emergency management and nonprofits.

“Since responding to the catastrophic Mississippi and Missouri river floods in 1993 to launching educational programming to protect our nation’s food supply after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Purdue Extension has been a driving force for the evolution of EDEN. Our capacity and strength to serve communities efficiently and rapidly in times of need is critical for addressing agrosecurity challenges,” Lillpop said.

August Pork Exports Higher While Beef Again Tops $1 Billion

U.S. pork exports in August topped year-ago totals for the first time in 2022. USDA data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation shows beef exports were slightly above the large volumes of last August and once again surpassed $1 billion in value.

“We talk about the importance of developing a wide range of markets for U.S. red meat, and the August numbers are a great example of that,” says USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “Exports face significant headwinds in some key destinations. However, the emphasis on broad-based growth pays dividends and allows the overall export picture to remain positive.”

Pork exports reached 226,300 metric tons, the largest total since November 2021, while the value rose four percent to $659 million.

Beef exports topped 133,800 metric tons, up one percent from last year and the second-largest volume on record, with the export value at just under $1.04 billion.