Western Corn Belt – Mixed Bag Spring 2014

June 10, 2014
Author Ryan Spurgeon


Hail Damage – By this time most fields are currently being or already have been evaluated for stand loss and potential replant due to the major widespread hail event which occurred on the evening of June 3rd 2014. For those corn acres that are being replanted, we have already been forced to back up in maturity by about 5-7 days RM due to calendar date. Next week, that number likely needs to back up by roughly another 5 days RM unless silage is an option. As we approach June 20th, planting corn is likely not a good idea for the geographies affected by the storm this year. Keep in mind, not all early hybrids move south as well as others, so extreme reductions in maturity (sub 100 day) are usually not good options. Soybeans are highly affected by length of daylight (more so than corn) in terms of when they are triggered to flower and begin their reproductive stages. In other words, a 2.9 maturity soybean planted on June 10th will not take as many days to mature as one planted on May 10th.  It is best to stick close to your adapted normal maturity for the near term.

Fungicides and Hail Damaged Corn – This has become a controversial topic in the last few years. We will not go into great detail here but below is a link to a somewhat recent article published by the University of Nebraska. In a nutshell, I believe each field is unique and the fields with the most reliable remaining yield potential are the ones that stand to benefit from just about any input, not just fungicides. I personally am not ready to promote blanket treatments of foliar fungicide to all V5-V7 corn that was damaged by hail. The science tells us that most fungicides have about an 18 day window in terms of residual protection. They are not effective at stopping infection of systemic infections such as Goss’s Wilt and stalk rot pathogens. If this had been a later occurring hail event when corn was at the late vegetative stages and/or early reproductive stages, I think the argument becomes more valid since those leaves/tissues higher in the canopy do indeed contribute to the plant’s photosynthetic yield factory. 

CropWatch Article

Twisted/Tied Up Corn Plant Whorls – It seems almost every year now we receive several reports of corn plants with twisted or tied up whorls. This year is no different. This is often referred to as RGS or “Rapid Growth Syndrome”. Opinions vary as to why this happens. Some blame it entirely on the environment while some think there is sometimes a link to herbicide. I would side with those that claim it is nothing more than a genetic X environment interaction we see when corn plants hit a rapid stage of growth, sometimes soon after a relatively cool period followed by favorable growing conditions. It is seen in many hybrids and across many brands. The good news is that past track records would suggest these plants will unravel and be fine with little to zero affect on yield. Just don’t be alarmed when you see random light yellow colored plants in the field once they unravel. Once they are able to intercept sunlight and resume photosynthesis, they should green up relatively quickly.

Rootworm Hatch – It has begun in most of the Hoegemeyer footprint. Typically about 50% of egg hatch occurs between 684-767 accumulated growing degree days (GDD). We are starting to approach that GDD level in some areas along and south of the I-80 corridor. Larvae will continue to hatch for the next few weeks seeking out corn roots to feed on before eventually pupating and then emerging as adult beetles later this summer. High risk fields would be those with known prior pressure, fields with continual use of the same single mode action corn rootworm trait, and multi-year continuous corn acres in general. The best way to evaluate fields is to dig roots and evaluate for injury. A bucket of water is often beneficial in order to clean off roots, which makes finding small larvae and feeding scars more visually evident.

Soybean PPO Herbicide Carryover – There have been some instances of possible PPO soybean herbicide carryover which has injured corn plants this year. This has been mainly more to the East and South (Southeast NE, Northwest MO, and Iowa) where these herbicides (PPO/Cell Membrane Disruptors) are heavily used to combat heavy waterhemp pressure. In most instances, this was associated with a relatively late planting of soybeans last year in conjunction with a high rate of a residual PPO soybean pre-emerge herbicide or where a late post application (July) of  specific PPO herbicide(s) was applied to soybeans. In either case, the relatively dry autumn, winter, and early spring is largely to blame as a lack of soil moisture did not enable the chemical to degrade as quickly as compared to normal. Several of these herbicides have a 10 month crop rotation restriction for going back to corn the following year, which means we may have been right up against that time period for those late planted and/or late sprayed fields when chased with a somewhat early (late April) corn planting date. Most plants are recovering with minimal stand loss with the exception of some hot spots in fields where some stand loss is evident.

Until next time, Contact your local Hoegemeyer DSM or Agronomist with questions. Hopefully we will begin to fall into a more stable weather pattern in the coming days/weeks. No more frost, hail, flooding, or wind is needed Mother Nature!!!

Categories: Corn, Disease, Fertility, Management, Pest, Planting, Ryan Spurgeon, Soybeans     Comments: 0     Tags: Fungicide and Hail Damaged Corn, Hail Damage, Hoegemeyer, Rapid Growth Syndrome, Rootworm Hatch, Ryan Spurgeon, Soybean PPO Herbicide Carryover    

Soil Temperature Alert! Watch Soil Temperature before Planting!

April 16, 2013
Author Don Moeller

It is already mid April and you’re ready to plant corn!  Why is soil temperature so important?  We all know that soil temperature should be hovering in the 50 degree area for corn to germinate but what many do not know is that it takes two things in the right amounts to properly start the corn seed germination process.  One is the right temperature and secondly, the seed needs to absorb around 30% of the seeds weight in water to begin the process in cooperation with soil temperature.  (Note: soybeans need to absorb about 50% of the seed weight.) 

Please consider this!  Many of the near term weather forecasts I have heard are saying cooler temperatures and some form of moisture which potentially may not allow near term soil temperatures to rise or stay like we hope it should.  We have all heard of seed lying in the ground for up to three weeks before it emerges hence we may reason that with the help of today’s seed treatments the seed still germinates and produces corn … so what can happen? 

Keeping in mind it takes the right (1) temperature and (2) amount of water to start germination, problems can arise in cool soil conditions!  Even though the temperature is not adequate to start germination the seed still continues to absorb water through the germ area of the seed. The amount of water absorbed will go above and beyond 30% of the seeds weight to the point where the seed expands so much that it breaks the clear pericarp layer surrounding the seed.  The longer seed lays in cool ground with its pericarp broken is like opening the barn doors wider to allow soil / disease pathogens unlimited opportunity to enter the seed.  These pathogens may increase the possibility of seedling damping off and or surviving plants will be at a greater risk of disease infection that may show up later in the year in the form of fungal diseases like stalk rot or bacterial problems or weaker, susceptible yield robbed plants.      

Consider that we still have a lot of time to plant for the best yield potential.

Categories: Corn, Don "Moe" Moeller, Fertility, Management, Planting, Soils     Comments: 0     Tags: Corn, Don "Moe" Moeller, Management, Planting, Soil Temperature, Soils    

Soil Moisture and Soil Temperature

April 15, 2013
Author Ryan Siefken

Much of the region has been blessed recently with moisture in some form – snow, sleet, hail, ice, and even rain.  For most of us, the drought isn’t over yet, but this last weather system has helped relieve some of the deficit.  Prior to the recent rains, I did some soil probing in a field near Columbus, NE.  Throughout the field there was adequate moisture in the top 12-15 inches of the profile.  The soil below this layer was quite dry.  This same field has received over 2 inches of rain since then, and I’d expect that the moisture has made it deeper into the profile now.  Rain events that yield 1, 2, or 3 inches at a time will be important for recharging the full soil profile.  Why?  Look no closer than your coffee cup.  You’ll notice that water climbs ever so slightly up the side of your cup.  This is called adhesion.  The water is actually binding (loosely) to the cup.  Water also likes to adhere to soil particles.  When the top layers of soil are dry, new rainfall will first bind to the soil near the surface because adhesion is stronger than gravity.  Only after the top layer of soil reaches field capacity will water begin to percolate down through the profile.

Your soil profile not only needs moisture from above, it also needs help in terms of management.  I’ve noticed how nearby fields have absorbed the recent rains with different levels of success.  Some fields showed signs of ponding and runoff.  Other fields soaked up every drop.  It’s not that the fields with no runoff were dryer (all of our fields needed rain).  The difference is that some fields were able to absorb the rain at higher rates than others.  Decisions on tillage, how much residue to leave, and compaction are making an impact on the amount of moisture that will available to the 2013 crop.

One comment on soil temperature…
Keith Glewen, UNL extension agronomist, forwarded some recent soil temperature data from the Mead, Nebraska area.  Temperatures at the 4” depth had been on a slow climb up to the 50 degree mark in early April, followed by 4 straight days in the low 50’s starting on April 6 and ending on April 9.  The soil temperature for April 10?  41.5 degrees.  As you make early-season planting decisions, always remember that soil temperatures closely follow air temperatures.

Categories: Corn, Fertility, Management, Ryan Siefken, Soils     Comments: 0     Tags: Management, Moisture, Planting, Ryan Siefken, Soil Profile, Soil Temperature, Soils    

Planting Time: Back to the Basics

April 1, 2013
Author Ryan Spurgeon

As planting season rapidly approaches, I was trying to think of a cutting-edge agronomy topic to blog about. However, after some thought I have decided to hit on some pretty basic, yet extremely important, topics regarding crop stand and establishment. A typical bag of seed today is loaded with “technology” but it cannot be unleashed without some good old fashioned sound agronomic practices. Once corn and soybean crops approach canopy early in the summer, the vast majority of their yield performance is out of our control. There are a few inputs such as foliar fungicides and insecticides which we still have at our disposal if the situation warrants, but for the most part we are at the mercy of Mother Nature in terms of temperature, rainfall, and sunlight intensity which are key factors for yield. Prior to that however, there are several things that are very much in our control. Rapid establishment of a uniform crop is of utmost importance if we want to even have a shot at approaching full yield potential at the end of the year. The following are a few key points to consider as planting time nears:

1. Proper Planting Depth – As simple as it may sound, shallow planting depth with corn can lead to many significant problems. When seed is planted too shallow, fewer root nodes are able to establish beneath the soil which leads to a restricted and overall lesser root mass. Plants may emerge uneven, lodge later in the year, be more prone to nutrient deficiency symptoms early in the year, have reduced water uptake under drought, and be more prone to rootless corn syndrome if soils are dry early in the year. Anything less than 2 inches is typically not ideal for most soils.

2.  Compaction – Anything that limits root development will usually limit yield. Stay out of fields when they are wet. An extra 24-48 hours can make a big difference in regards to side-wall compaction. Avoid excessive down pressure unless needed to ensure proper planting depth. Spike toothed closing wheels have been shown to help avoid side-wall compaction in damp soils by enabling fracturing of the side-wall. However, the best practice is too simply stay out of fields when questionable.

3. Seed Spacing – Most planters are quite capable of accurately planting a wide range of seed sizes if utilizing the correct plates and air pressure. For finger units make sure backing plates are not worn and fingers are all working properly. Unfortunately it is impossible to “manufacture” seed size equally across many different hybrids and varieties. Excessive planter speed works against you. One study I saw showed a 24 bushel decrease in yield when planter speed was increased from 4.5 mph to 7 mph. Across 1,500 acres of corn that is…………….well a lot of $$$$$$$.

4. Early Season Weeds – Start with a clean field if at all possible. Both corn and beans (especially corn) are sensitive to early season weed competition even at low to moderate pressures if the weeds emerge ahead of or at the same time as the crop. Post applications of glyphosate have enabled many of us to clean up messes but in many of these cases significant bushels have already been lost. Most corn acres utilize a pre-emergence herbicide but many soybean growers still rely too heavily on post emerge only. Consider using a pre-emergence herbicide ahead of soybeans at least on a percentage of your acres. Holding back grass and small seeded broadleaves including marestail, waterhemp, and lambsquarter is often very beneficial.

5. Crop Residue – Excessive surface residue can present challenges ranging from poor seed to soil contact to nutrient immobilization. If applicable, set row cleaners low enough to move most residue out of the row zone to ensure hair-pinning does not occur and good seed to soil contact is established. However, avoid setting them too deep. Moving a lot of soil is undesirable, as it creates a place for water to accumulate or wash on sloping fields. Fields with excessive surface crop residues may be more prone to nitrogen immobilization if your sole primary source of N is broadcast surface applied.

* Any portion of yield potential lost early in the season is gone for good with little chance of recovery in full no matter how favorable the growing season is later in the year. The five topics discussed here can go a long way toward ensuring that our crop(s) get off to a good start and maintain optimum yield potential.   If you have questions, contact your local Hoegemeyer agronomist, district sales manager or dealer.

Categories: Corn, Fertility, Management, Planting, Ryan Spurgeon     Comments: 0     Tags: Compaction, Corn, Crop Residue, Management, Planting Depth, Ryan Spurgeon, Seed Spacing, Weed Control    

Tillage vs Soil Moisture

November 5, 2012
Author Ryan Spurgeon

What are the odds we head into the 2013 planting season with a full soil moisture profile? I can’t say for certain but there is probably a pretty good chance that some areas of our trade area will not, based off where we stand now.

There are definitely both positive and negative attributes associated with soil tillage when comparing to reduced till or no-till.  No-till or reduced till acres generally have a few more disease and emergence issues compared to conventional tilled fields since the soil remains cooler and wetter a little longer in the spring . The increased crop residue can sometimes increase the likelihood for some foliar diseases like grey leaf spot later in the year as well. Ok, that’s enough on the negatives. Now let’s cover some of the positive benefits of no-till/reduced tillage.

Crop residue/stubble left on the soil surface greatly aides water infiltration (rate & amount) into the soil profile. It also helps catch snow during the winter as well as lessens the impact of rain drops on topsoil in the spring which in turn reduces crusting potential.  Aggressive tillage destroys/lessens soil porosity.  Porosity is a term that refers to areas in between soil particles. These areas typically are filled with air and/or water. As porosity decreases water infiltration also decreases along with total plant available water. It’s quite common in the spring or early summer to see water standing after a brief heavy rain in fields that have been tilled black. That water is subject to evaporation as well as runoff depending on slope of the field.  True no-till fields have very diverse soil porosity within their profile compared to fields that are continually tilled multiple times each year. This includes natural structure pores, earthworm channels, and previous year’s plant root channels.  Each tillage pass works to destroy these.

We know tillage is necessary for many fields depending on soil type, amount of residue, and crop, but going into this next year we may need to ask ourselves which fields truly fall into that category.  There should not have been a high potential for wheel traffic compaction during harvest this year compared to recent years since generally we did not experience wet soils during harvest. Is the soil hard?  Yes, but hard and compacted are not the same. Keep that in mind when planning any deep tillage. University studies have estimated that each tillage pass has the potential to remove .25 inch of plant available water from the profile. Going into next year we may need to conserve every bit of moisture we can when it comes.

Figure 1. Water infiltration with five different tillage systems. NT=No-till, ST=Strip-tillage, DR=Deep Rip, CP=Chisel Plow and MP=Moldboard Plow. (Al-Kaisi, 2011).  (Courtesy Iowa State University).  The picture above illustrates a field with a likely relatively high water infiltration rate.

Categories: Fertility, Management, Ryan Spurgeon, Soils     Comments: 0     Tags: Moisture Conservation in Fields, No-till, Reduced Tillage, Ryan Spurgeon