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Last year was a banner year. Soybeans. Corn. Conditions didn’t seem to favor one more than the other – it was all good. So why then did one of Eggert County’s top producers fall alarmingly short of his yield goal? If it can happen to Gerald Fitzgerald it can happen to anyone. Unless his brother Darrell can figure out what happened, who’s to say it won’t? Use the information on this website – from the latest weekly podcast, to character descriptions and especially case files, to solve The Great Yield Mystery.
Welcome to Episode 2 of The Great Yield Mystery. For the best experience possible, please listen on your mobile device. You can subscribe via any of the channels included below.
Episode 2 Synopsis: Darrell Fitzgerald talks to Uncle Lewis about the weather last year. Darrell hopes his conversation with Uncle Lewis will help him better understand what happened to his brother Gerald’s soybean yield last year.
Weather. Can’t ignore its impact on a crop. So there just wasn’t any way to avoid talking to Uncle Lewis as a part of any serious investigation into lost yield.
After enduring what felt like 10 hours of war stories and obscure rants, I coaxed him into talking a little bit about his actual (self-proclaimed) area of expertise: weather. Somewhere between his Calcutta Clipper diatribe and a story about being stuck in a foxhole with an actual fox, Uncle Lewis hit on a couple things one might consider an actual clue.
Uncle Lewis reminded me that there were two significant rain events in April that had most ground in the county unfit to plant for quite some time. This causes me to wonder if my brother jumped the gun and hopped into some ground that wasn’t fit to plant and it negatively impacted his yield.
I also did some research into some research. The local university did a study awhile back on the negative impact of rain on yields when that rain comes shortly after planting, slowing canopy closure. That early, heavy rain could also have a pretty big impact on spring-applied fertilizer.
I’m not ruling out that our weird spring played a role here. But, as usual, Uncle Lewis left plenty of blanks to be filled.
It’s obvious that I’m going to need to start digging deeper into some actual agronomic expertise, so. I’m trying to track down Gary, Gerald’s crop consultant, who seems like he might be trying to give me the slip. Gary often refers me to CropNutrition.com, so maybe I’ll start there.
As long as anyone can remember, Gerald Fitzgerald has set the bar for successful farming in this community.
Gerald’s success reached legendary status in 2014 with the highest corn yield anyone can remember on his best field. Folks wondered if he was about to do the same when he turned that field from corn to soybeans in 2015.
But Gerald isn’t walking as tall this year as he was last. An open seat sits at the coffee shop each morning where local acre-owners compare notes, and one can only wonder if this local farm star will ever re-claim his previous perch atop the county yield statistics.
Gerald may have been the quarterback of the Eggert East football team, but it was Darrell who played left tackle and made sure his brother’s blind side was protected.
Some things never change. While he no longer dons the pads to protect his brother, Darrell is as brotherly as any brother might be. That includes paying careful attention to his successful operation and making sure Gerald gets the right advice from the right people.
So when he saw his brother’s shoulders slump around harvest time, Darrell took action.