Weather Departures and Management Explain Wide-ranging 2015 Yields
- Early warm weather boosted vegetative growth and increased photosynthesis.
- Grain fill lasted longer than normal, boosting yields.
- Increased rainfall during grain fill aided nitrogen availability to plants at a critical time.
It’s often said that a normal year is the average of five extremes. The 2015 growing season was extreme as well, but farmers who were prepared benefited greatly.
If best management practices were implemented throughout the growing season, stresses could be managed. Producers who tried to shortcut management, however, were unable to take advantage of an unusual year of weather opportunities.
While much of the Corn Belt had near optimum soil moisture, some eastern areas received excessive moisture early in the growing season. This either washed away soil nitrate, or caused it to be lost to denitrification. Denitrification occurs when low soil oxygen content causes available nitrogen to be converted to nitrous oxide or elemental nitrogen. Converted nitrogen is then lost to the atmosphere, making it unusable to the crop.