D.Comparison of 2015 to 2010-2014
2015 delayed planting, early wet conditions, with comparable harvest time
1. Early Harvest Area
While the average 50% planting progress date for 2010-2014 was around the end of March, producers in the EHA reached 50% planting progress approximately seven to ten days later in 2015. However, EHA planting progress in 2015 quickly caught up to the average 80% planting progress for 2010-2014. Abundant rains from late February (when early planting could start) until mid-pollination time (June) delayed vegetative growth. These rains were the primary cause of the EHA sorghum crop reaching the 50% mid-pollination crop progress approximately two weeks behind the average for 2010-2014. From the late reproductive phase through harvest, drier and warmer grain-fill conditions hastened maturity and harvesting, with the 2015 harvest only one week behind the 2010-2014 average. For the EHA, freeze events were not of main concern for reducing yields and impacting grain quality.
Throughout much of the 2015 season, the sorghum crop in the EHA was below the 60% crop condition rating. This rating reflected the challenges in sorghum production experienced early in the 2015 growing season, including wet early-season conditions, which caused delayed planting; cool temperatures, which slowed vegetative development; increased nutrient losses; and lowered biomass accumulation (or plant growth). Crop conditions improved as the EHA sorghum approached mid-pollination with a 70% crop condition rating. This average crop rating remained at the same level until harvest.
2. Late Harvest Area
In 2015, sorghum producers experienced onset and early planting progress from early April until mid-May, comparable to the averages for 2010-2014. While abundant rains from early May until approximately mid-June delayed overall planting progress in 2015 compared to the average for 2010-2014, 2015 planting progress was comparable to the 2010-2014 average at the 80% planting progress threshold. Drier weather then prevailed in 2015 from mid-to-late June until heading, which accelerated late vegetative stages and caused the crop to reach mid-pollination at about the same time as the average for 2010-2014. In 2015, heading started in early August, reaching 50% around mid-September and 100% close to the beginning of October. From the late reproductive phase until harvest, drier and warmer grain-fill conditions hastened maturity and harvest time, with crop progress for the 2015 growing season comparable to the averages for 2010-2014. Freeze events are of concern for reducing yields in the LHA, but were not a problem for the 2015 growing season.
The 2015 LHA sorghum crop condition rating was approximately 70% from early planting until harvest. This crop condition rating implied good plant health, normal vegetative development, and good plant growth. Average crop condition for the 2010-2014 period was below 50%, which clearly portrayed a better growing season for 2015 compared to the average for the 2010-2014 period. The more favorable sorghum conditions in 2015 were also reflected in higher yields documented for this crop year.