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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.
Seed Boy dropped by.
After he made himself comfortable, he told me Frogeye Leaf Spot typically isn’t a problem in this area. Even so, some of his seed varieties were Frogeye Leaf Spot resistant. A few of his high-yielding varieties however did not have resistance to Frogeye Leaf Spot.
Speaking of yield, Seed Boy reminded me that up to 60 percent of yield is dependent on soil fertility, or the nutrition available to crops.
It might be more important than I realized. So, I talked to Gary.
As someone who participates in Gary’s fantasy football league every year, Gary explained soil fertility in a way I understood – football terminology.
He told me to think about how you need a good breakfast to start everyday – to make sure you don’t run out of steam before the big game is over. Plants need energy too – to make sure they have enough energy to grow pods, fight off issues, and help roots go as deep into the soil as they can. Balanced crop nutrition matters, and sticking to a nutrition plan makes a big difference.
So what nutrients actually matter in soil? He reminded me that taking a soil test would definitely help, and once I knew what nutrients were and weren’t available, I could dig a little deeper. He referred me to CropNutrition.com, the Period Table of Crop Nutrients. I played around a bit and found a few things I already knew, like what a Nitrogen deficiency looks like, and a few things that were new to me, like how as soil pH increases, zinc availability decreases.
It turns out there’s a lot about crop nutrition I didn’t know.
I’ve got to get that soil test . . .
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.