Hillcrest Sales
Sign 0357

Hillcrest Sales Newsletter

September 2021

Happy Labor Day!

I was looking back at last year’s pre harvest newsletter and here is a clip from September 2020:

“The last couple years at this time it was wet and lush green, and this year it is bone dry and everything is turning yellow at a rapid pace! At this point it appears we will start soybean harvest as early as we ever have. Initially that seems like a bad thing, but for many of us it may not be as bad as we think. If you look at GDU’s for Glenwood, Iowa we are still 80-100 heat units ahead of normal and in addition most crop was planted significantly earlier than normal. So, when you compound those stats, it’s not surprising that the crop looks a couple weeks ahead of normal. Then you add the lack of rain and we probably look about the way we should look…”

Wow, it doesn’t seem like it, but apparently 2021 is very similar to 2020! We are ahead of average on GDU’s and solar radiation, and behind on moisture, so crops are progressing ahead of average. Similar to 2020 our disease pressure and insect pressure have been lighter than recent years, so that has helped maintain yield potential. I think most fields can still fully benefit from our first heavy rain of the season that finally showed up this week. I have been told that they irrigate soybeans until the leaves fall off, so I think all bean fields should be able to utilize the rain to help finish filling pods and I don’t think I have seen any corn that has black layered yet, so it should all be able to use the rain to pack on some more depth and test weight.

The extreme heat last week has caused some ears to drop but fortunately most ears that I have checked are NOT fully pinched off-which means they can still accumulate dry matter (test weight).

Pre-Mature Ear Drop in CornBelow is a good article from Purdue describing the cause and effect of ears that droop prematurely. Keep in mind, some hybrids with a long ear shank (P1353AM for example) will tend to droop the ear late in the season but will not necessarily collapse the ear shank when this happens. If the ear is drooping, but the ear shank is not collapsed, the grain fill will still occur as desired. As mentioned above, drought stress is likely causing a significant number of these fields to pinch the shank and unfortunately black layer ahead of schedule.


  • “Droopy” ears suggest a loss of turgidity in the ear shank with stress, causing the ear shank to collapse.
  • Collapsed ear shanks prior to black layer greatly restrict, or prevent, completion of grain fill.
  • Yield loss at 1/4 milk-line for complete plant shutdown = 15-20%
  • Yield loss at 1/2 milk-line for complete plant shutdown = 8-10%
  • Yield loss at 3/4 milk-line for complete plant shutdown = 2-4%

One positive difference from this time last year are commodity prices! Corn and soybean prices remain significantly higher than 2020. Unfortunately that leads to significant increases in input prices as well. Fertilizer is setting the pace with prices roughly double what they were this time last year. I am not sure how supply can be an issue (with that much margin) in fertilizer, but at this time it is challenging to contract wholesale fertilizer. I certainly cant predict the future, but with higher fertilizer prices and the potential for an early harvest this would be a great fall to update your soil tests. Investing a few dollars per acre into current soil test levels will allow your operation to maximize every dollar with accurate variable rate fertilizer and lime applications.

Crop protection pricing and supply will continue to be a challenge heading into the 2022 crop year. I would highly encourage you all to communicate your needs with your supplier to ensure they can get you covered. Liberty (Glufosinate) and Glyphosate are both in tight supply right now and the prices are double the price of last year. I am told Liberty supply will be short for 2022, so make sure you speak for it if you plan to use it. Glyphosate is a wild card, I think we will be able to get it, but it might have a different label (and price tag) than we are used to. It will be more important than ever to work with a trusted & reliable supplier for these inputs.

Our Pioneer seed products may be the shining star of inputs for 2022. By comparison, a very conservative increase in pricing, multiple trait options, and good selection of our top tier product offerings. We will have a strong supply of E3 soybeans available for 2022 including a small percentage of proprietary “A” series E3 soybeans with exclusive Pioneer genetics. We are planning for a large supply of proprietary Pioneer genetics we are familiar with for 2023. As usual, we will be building planting plans and invoices this fall to speak for the products and packaging of your choice. Please communicate with us on your plans for 2022 as soon as possible so we can get what you want in our shed.

One other really nice surprise is Illevo seed treatment for Sudden Death Syndrome took a significant price drop. This product has been heavily used statewide for several years, but we were not seeing the heavy pressure that other parts of the state were experiencing. That seems to be changing, SDS appears to be here to stay and the pressure seems to increase a little more each year. This season we applied Illevo to most of the early planted soybeans and it did make a very visual difference. Right now is a great time to evaluate your SDS pressure. Please take some time this week to analyze your SDS pressure and decide if that is something you want or need to do for 2022.

Here is the moral of the story… Plan and communicate with your agronomy supplier more than ever. The backlash of “COVID” isn’t over and I don’t think it will be for all of 2022. It sounds like it will take a couple years to get supplies built back up to levels we were used to.

As you prepare for harvest, please let us know how we can help. We will be out with the weigh wagon and we are happy to help calibrate monitors, do yield checks, or help complete any corn growers yield checks. The rest of the story is yet to be told, but I have gotten a look at some very impressive corn and soybeans across the country in recent weeks. Between a surprisingly good crop and good commodity prices, I think 2021 has the potential to be a very good year for Southwest Iowa farmers. Please let us know how we can help you “make farming great”! As always, please make safety a priority this fall!