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Agronomy Notebook



Planning for high yielding soybeans

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA product manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

When planning for the upcoming growing season, it can be easy to focus more energy on corn production as it has traditionally been the more intensively managed crop. However, producers who put in the effort to manage their soybean crop have proven it is possible to attain high yields of 70+ bushels per acre. Below are some tips for planning to produce high-yielding soybeans in 2019.

  • Quality seed: Planting the right seed sets the stage for the entire growing season. Growers should plant genetics with high yield potential. Choose varieties that have been tested at several locations and across multiple years. Growers should choose varieties adapted to their soil types and management practices. As with corn, choosing varieties with strong disease packages and agronomic traits with aid in achieving higher yields.
  • Planting date: University research has proven that timely, early planting is one way to increase soybean yields.
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Lessons learned from 2018

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

The 2018 growing season was one of the most challenging for our customers in recent history. Although growers would rather move on from the frustrations and challenges thrown at us this year, there are several lessons that can be taken from 2018 to ensure success in the future.

Timely field work

Wet spring weather has shown the importance of timely field work in the spring. Saturated soils create delays and pressure to complete field work in narrower windows of time. Although heavy rains and cool weather can cause extended delays, field conditions can turn around quickly as observed this spring. Our agronomists observed soil temperatures a few inches below the soil surface go from the upper 30s (Fahrenheit) to the mid 50s in just a few days in no-till fields where soils had been saturated. Having equipment ready to go when a favorable planting window arrives is imperative.

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Why the ugly soybeans?

By Luke Schulte, Beck’s Hybrids

For many farmers across Ohio, soybean yields have been good to great, but the soybean quality has not been as promising. Uncharacteristically warm temperatures along with high rainfall and humidity as the soybeans matured led to some ugly looking soybeans this fall. From disease to insect feeding and compromised pods, there are many factors that have taken a toll on soybean seed quality this year.

Disease

The unseasonably warm temperatures and high humidity during late August and September led to a significant frogeye leaf spot (FLS) infection on the soybean pods themselves. Typically, we think of this disease as more damaging to soybean vegetation. However, with extremely high volumes of inoculum present, along with a favorable environment, pods were infected as well. As the FLS lesions continued to develop, they not only penetrated the pod wall infecting the soybeans, but also weakened or thinned the pod walls, allowing moisture to move into the pod cavity.

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Use plot data to make sound decisions

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

As harvest is completed across the Eastern Corn Belt, seed companies, universities, and growers will have the chance to compile and analyze data from yield testing. One of the most important decisions a farmer will face all year is deciding what variety to plant and in which field to plant it. To ensure that the best possible decision is made next spring, it is critical to spend some time looking at yield data. While reviewing data is critical, knowing how to determine whether it is accurate and useful is equally important. Below are some tips for using data to make sound planting decisions next spring.

 

Look for replicated data

Don’t rely on yield results from one strip plot on a farm or from a single plot location. Look for data from randomized tests that are repeated multiple times and across multiple locations.

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Late-season weather impacts corn and soybean growth and development

By Kyle Poling, Pioneer Field Agronomist, Ada, Ohio

Physiological maturity of a soybean seed occurs when the seed has completely lost all green color and turns yellow. At this point grain moisture is still over 50%, but a harvestable moisture of near 13% can be reached in as little as two weeks under good drying conditions. In order to time harvest perfectly, it is necessary to monitor soybean drying very closely. At full maturity (R8), 95% of pods have reached their mature pod color. At the R8 growth stage, only five to 10 good drying days are needed before harvest. Begin checking grain moisture before all the leaves have dropped off all the plants as various stresses can cause soybeans to retain some leaves. It is not uncommon to see a few green leaves and stems on some plants after the pods are fully ripe and the soybeans are dry enough for harvest.

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Kernel red streak

By Matt Hutcheson, Seed Consultants, Inc.

One common occurrence observed by growers and agronomists at when corn begins to mature is a red coloring of the normally yellow pericarp of corn kernels. Kernel Red Streak (KRS), pictured top left, results from the development of red pigment in corn kernels caused by wheat curl mite feeding on the kernel seed coat. According to Purdue’s John Obermeyer and Christian Krupke in the 2015 issue 25 of the Pest and Crop Newsletter; “There are two suspected mechanisms causing the red streaking. One is the triggering of anthocyanin, a red pigment, in the pericarp as a response to mite feeding. Hybrids vary greatly in how much and where anthocyanin accumulates (e.g., purple seedling corn under cool, wet conditions). The other is the elicitation of another red pigment, phlobaphene, that determines cob (white vs. red), pericarp (great variability as shown with Indian corn), and silk (yellow vs.

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Late-season weather impacts corn and soybean growth and development

By Kyle Poling, Pioneer Field Agronomist, Ada, Ohio

Physiological maturity of a soybean seed occurs when the seed has completely lost all green color and turns yellow. At this point grain moisture is still over 50%, but a harvestable moisture of near 13% can be reached in as little as two weeks under good drying conditions. In order to time harvest perfectly, it is necessary to monitor soybean drying very closely. At full maturity (R8), 95% of pods have reached their mature pod color. At the R8 growth stage, only five to 10 good drying days are needed before harvest. Begin checking grain moisture before all the leaves have dropped off all the plants as various stresses can cause soybeans to retain some leaves. It is not uncommon to see a few green leaves and stems on some plants after the pods are fully ripe and the soybeans are dry enough for harvest.

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Harvest success in 2018 and beyond

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

With crops beginning to mature and harvest quickly approaching there are still several actions Ohio’s farmers can take to ensure success in 2018 and beyond. It has been a challenging growing season due to weather extremes, increased disease pressure, spreading populations of herbicide resistant weeds, and more. While many things are out of our control, there are some management decisions growers can make to finish this year successfully and get an early start on a productive 2019 season.

Ohio’s crops have been exposed some extreme and severe weather conditions in 2018. While some areas had plenty of rain, ensuring average or better yields, crops were also exposed to periods of excessively wet conditions or excessively dry conditions. While the weather has been favorable for crop development, some aspects of this year’s weather could negatively affect corn and soybean yields. Although much of Ohio has received above average rainfall, a key factor in raising a crop, receiving large amounts of rain in one event can cause yield-reducing damage to crops.

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Nitrogen deficiency in corn

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

Due to heavy rainfall and saturated soils during the 2018 growing season, it is not surprising to see some signs of nitrogen deficiency showing up in corn fields. Whether applied preplant or sidedressed, patterns of heavy rainfall and wet soils increase the likelihood of nitrogen being lost. Because nitrogen is an essential nutrient for corn plant development and ultimately yield, losses will impact final yields this fall.

When saturated conditions persist, nitrogen can be lost though leaching or denitrification. Leaching (more likely to occur in course-textured soils) is the process where nitrogen is moved down through the soil profile and out of the root zone where it is not available to plants. The severity of nitrogen loss due to leaching is impacted the intensity and duration of rainfall. Denitrification is the process where soil nitrogen is biologically converted to gaseous nitrogen and lost to the atmosphere.

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Nitrogen deficiency showing up

By Matt Hutcheson, Seed Consultants, Inc.

Due to heavy rainfall and saturated soils during the 2018 growing season, it is not surprising to see some signs of nitrogen deficiency showing up in corn fields across Seed Consultants’ sales footprint. Whether applied pre-plant or sidedressed, patterns of heavy rainfall and wet soils increase the likelihood of nitrogen being lost. Because nitrogen is an essential nutrient for corn plant development and ultimately yield, losses will impact final yields this fall.

When saturated conditions persist, nitrogen can be lost though leaching or denitrification. Leaching (more likely to occur in course-textured soils) is the process where nitrogen is moved down through the soil profile and out of the root zone where it is not available to plants. The severity of nitrogen loss due to leaching is impacted the intensity and duration of rainfall. Denitrification is the process where soil nitrogen is biologically converted to gaseous nitrogen and lost to the atmosphere.

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Project grain fill

By John Brien, AgriGold

Grain fill is a critical part of a corn plant’s life, but is often overlooked because it is kind of slow, boring and uneventful to watch. What is actually occurring soon after pollination is utterly amazing considering an acre of corn has to “build” over 11,200 pounds of dry matter to equal 200 bushel of grain yield. Therefore grain fill is anything but boring and is vital for high yields.

Grain fill is the period of corn growth and development between pollination and black layering (or physiological maturity). During grain fill the corn plant is using their leaves to capture sunlight to drive photosynthesis that in turn produces the sugars the plant needs to build yield. The corn plant also uses its roots to acquire moisture and nutrients to build the dry matter. Therefore the more sunlight a corn plant can intercept and the more nutrients and water it can aquire, equates to more optimal grain fill and therefore higher yield potential.

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Growing conditions conducive to brittle snap

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

Over the past week, Seed Consultants agronomists and sales staff have observed green snap brittle snap (aka green snap) in some corn fields this week. Although typically a problem observed in the western Corn Belt, brittle snap does occasionally occur in the east. As corn plants develop quickly in vegetative stages of growth, they go through a period of rapid growth during which corn stalks are brittle. As stalks elongate they become more rigid and the cell walls of stalk tissue become fragile, increase the risk of stalk breakage. Corn plants are more prone to brittle snap between V8 and tasseling, especially the 2 weeks before tasseling.

In many areas during the later stages of vegetative growth there has been plenty of rain, heat, and storms with high wind speeds. When stalks brake below the ear, no grain will be produced. When stalks break above the ear, it is still possible for them to produce grain, however, at a significantly reduced amount.

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Now is the time to scout for disease in corn

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

With warm, wet weather occurring across the eastern Corn Belt, now is a critical time to begin scouting for disease and determining whether or not fungicide applications are necessary. Over the last week our agronomy and sales staff and observed Gray Leaf Spot(GLS) and Northern Corn Leaf Blight (NCLB) developing in our sales footprint. The fungi that result in the formation of GLS and NCLB overwinter on corn residue. The development of these diseases depends on environmental factors. Warm, humid weather favors growth of GLS and NCLB. Periods of heavy due, fog, or light rain will provide the needed conditions for these leaf diseases to develop.

Scouting this time of year is critical to determine what diseases are present and the severity of disease. Taking time to walk fields will allow growers to make sound management decisions based on observations. When determining where to start scouting, growers should determine which fields are most at-risk for disease development.

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Watch fields for early season issues

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

As we begin another growing season in Ohio, growers have already begun

to deal with the challenges of 2018. Although it is early in the growing season, Ohio’s farmers have already dealt with several issues in their corn fields.

Patterns of wet weather and large rainfall events have caused planting delays, slow emergence, and saturated soils in many areas. Due to large rain events this spring, many fields were flooded. While corn can survive flooding/ponding for a period of time, several factors determine the length of time plants can survive. Young corn plants can usually survive two to four days in flooded conditions. Death of corn plants is more likely prior to the V6 stage of development because the growing point is still below the soil surface. Although ponding/flooding has the potential to impact stands, crops can survive under the right conditions.

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Rapid growth syndrome in corn

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

While scouting corn fields this spring, some farmers in the eastern Corn Belt may have noticed strange looking corn plants with new growth that was yellow and leaves that were wrinkled randomly spread throughout their field. This a phenomenon is referred to as “Rapid Growth Syndrome.” In many areas of our sales footprint weather conditions were such that our agronomists and sales staff observed plants affected by Rapid Growth Syndrome. Corn plants are usually affected by this issue is in the V5 to V6 stages of growth. This phenomenon is usually associated with an abrupt change in weather. Twisted whorls can appear when corn plants shift from a period of slow growth (in cool, cloudy weather) to more rapid growth (warm, sunny weather).

Symptoms of Rapid Growth Syndrome include bent-over plants and tightly wrapped whorls that keep younger leaves from emerging. Once younger leaves emerge, they are often yellow but turn green after a few days.

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Corn planting date considerations

For much of the Eastern Corn Belt it is widely understood that the optimal planting period is between April 20 and May 10. Research has proven that corn loses yield potential daily when planted after the beginning of May. For the Central Corn Belt, the declines in yield potential due to planting delays vary from about 0.3% per day early in May to about 1% per day by the end of May (Nielsen, 2013).

Knowing that this is true, it can be frustrating during a wet spring or when field work is delayed for one reason or another. Planting is a critical component of a successful crop as it sets the stage for the entire growing season. However, it is important to keep in mind that early planting is just one of many factors that contribute to high yield potential. Planting early favors high yields, but it does not guarantee them and growers should not focus entirely on the calendar.

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Considerations for extended cold, wet spring weather

Over the last several days we have been monitoring soil temperatures in a field near the Seed Consultants, Inc. main office. At 9:30am on Wednesday April, 11 soil temp at a 2-inch depth was 38 degrees Fahrenheit. After warm, sunny weather, 24 hours later soil temp in the same area of the field was 51 degrees. Corn requires 55 degrees Fahrenheit for germination, soybeans require 50 degrees. Although soil temperatures can reach sufficient levels after a few days of warm weather, it is important to keep in mind that they can drop just as quickly. On Friday April 13 the soil temperatures had climbed to 69 degrees F. However, after cooler weather and 1.3 inches of rain over the weekend, soil temp was at 40 degrees F this morning.

When planting into adequate conditions, it is important to keep the forecast in mind. The first 24 hours a seed is in the ground are critical to its survival, and a cold wet rain in this time period can cause cold shock, which can kill seedlings.

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The ins and outs of early planting for soybeans

There has been an undeniable shift toward earlier planting of soybeans. Several Pioneer GrowingPoint agronomy research studies have shown the benefits of early planting for maximizing soybean yield (graph 1). Early planting allows growers to plant full-season varieties with higher yield potential. Additionally, soybeans planted earlier will generally produce more nodes/plant, reach canopy closure sooner, intercept more sunlight and spend a longer duration in reproductive growth (graph 2).

Yield results from DuPont Pioneer Product Knowledge Plots from 1996 to 2012.

The ideal soil temperature for soybean germination and emergence is 77 degrees F. However, soil temperatures at a two-inch depth do not typically reach these levels until late May or early June. Soybeans can easily germinate at soil temperatures of 50 degrees F at a two-inch soil depth, but it is not unusual for emergence to take three weeks at these low temperatures.

However, growers who assume “earlier is always better” without proper planning and management techniques may be on a path to lower yields and missed opportunities.

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Preparing for a successful growing season

The 2018 growing season is fast approaching and with it another year of challenges. Spring management and field work set the stage for the entire growing season, playing a big role in determining yield potential of crops. Although environmental factors are out of their control, there are several management practices growers can do to prepare for a successful and productive growing season.

One challenge farmers face every year is completing field work in a timely manner, especially when adverse weather conditions exist. Timeliness is key to several areas of crop management including effective pesticide application, fertilizer application, tillage, stand establishment, and ultimately yield potential. Timely control of weeds and pests eliminates harvest losses due to competition and crop damage. Identifying potential pest problems requires careful scouting of fields throughout the growing season and applying rescue treatments when pest reach threshold levels established by universities.

University research has proven that timely planting is a determining factor for yield, and delays will cause loss of yield potential.

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Non-GMO corn production and purity concerns

Many corn growers in the Eastern Corn Belt produce NON-GMO corn attempting to capture an additional premium. Depending on the contracting elevator, standard GMO contamination allowances are typically from 0% to 1%. Producing NON-GMO corn within the acceptable tolerances of GMO contamination is possible; however, there are several challenges and potential pitfalls that make production of 100% pure NON-GMO corn a tremendous undertaking and can keep growers from capturing a premium for their corn. Planting NON-GMO seed does not necessarily mean the harvested shelled corn will be NON-GMO free. Tests used by elevators to determine if GMO’s are present may not be 100% accurate, but they are a determining factor as to whether a load will be accepted.

If a grower plants NON-GMO corn, what could cause GMO contamination?
• Contaminated planting equipment and seed tenders
• Contaminated seed
• Mistakes made in record keeping where hybrids were not correctly identified at planting and/or harvest, leading to contamination
• Adventitious pollen from GMO corn fields can cause cross-pollination of NON-GMO corn
• Contaminated combines at harvest
• Contaminated grain carts, wagons, trucks, augers, grain legs, and grain bins
What steps can be taken in an attempt to produce grain that meets GMO tolerances?

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