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Agronomy Notebook



Fungicide applications to late planted crops

By John Schoenhals, Pioneer Field Agronomist in northern Ohio

Fungicide applications to corn and soybeans is an important management practice in an “average” year, but what about in 2019, a year

in which many corn and soybean acres were planted much later than normal? To answer this question, it is important to understand the role and function of fungicides.

Leaves serve as a “factory” for the plant, collecting sunlight and carbon dioxide to produce sugars used for grainfill. Healthy leaves produce sufficient amounts of sugars to meet grainfill needs as well as support plant health.

When plant diseases are present, the efficiency of this factory is reduced. If the demand for sugars is greater than what an unhealthy plant can produce, grain yield is reduced and overall plant health will rapidly decline as cannibalization of stalks takes place.

When fungicide applications occur, the leaf “factory” is protected from further disease development for a period of at least two to three weeks.

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Make the best of a bad spring

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

Spring of 2019 is one everyone would soon like to forget. However, as the growing season progresses, there are several areas of crop growth and development that could be impacted because of the wet field conditions and delayed field work.

In many areas field conditions were marginal at best for the duration of April, May, and June. As a result, field work was performed in wet soils. Although many growers feel they never had adequate conditions and to perform field work, it is important to keep in mind that throughout the growing season we are going to see why agronomists warn against field work in wet soils. Root-restricting compaction is a concern this growing season and evidence of compaction’s significant impact on crop development appeared shortly after emergence of corn this year. In fields where corn was planted under wet conditions, sidewall compaction is evidenced by roots that can only grow in the direction of the seed furrow because they are unable to penetrate the sidewall of the furrow.

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June corn lookouts

By Luke Schulte, Beck’s Hybrids

As I am writing this, many corn and soybean acres have yet to be planted throughout the state. However, my hope is that by the time you read this, your crop will have emerged and will be growing vigorously.

One thing that is certain for later planted corn is that the vegetative growth period will be expedited. By now, many of you have been made aware of the research conducted by The Ohio State University and Purdue University which has shown that, on average, a hybrid requires 6.8 GDU’s less per day to reach black layer or physiological maturity when planted after May 1. This is possible because of the accelerated accumulation of heat units or GDU’s. Instead of producing a new leaf every five to seven days prior to the V7 growth stage, later planted corn will more likely produce a new leaf every four to six days within this same period.

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Watch for important yield-determining factors as planted corn moves forward

By Roy A. Ulrich, DEKALB/Asgrow technical agronomist

The long fight with Mother Nature that started in the fall with harvest rolled right into spring and never really relented. As a result, the growing season of 2019 started out by challenging the plans that growers and agronomists had developed over the winter months to produce the highest yields possible while striving for the best return per acre. While most of those plans did not include a mid- to late-May and into June planting dates for corn and soybeans, that is when some growers finally found a dry period to put crops in the ground. Now is the time to reexamine those plans to see which of the yield determining factors could still have a positive influence on the corn crop in 2019.

After all, according to Dr. Bob Nielson from Purdue University only “12 to 16% of the overall yield variability is actually impacted by the delayed planting date.” There is still a very high percentage of the overall yield that we can influence.

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Assessing corn germination and emergence

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

Uniform corn emergence is one of the most important aspects of stand establishment and producing high yielding corn. Understanding germination, emergence, and how environmental factors influence these processes is the first step toward ensure uniform emergence.

Germination

Germination begins in a corn seed when it has imbibed 30% of its weight in water. While corn can germinate when soil temperatures are 50 degrees F or higher, research has determined that the optimal temperature is 86 degrees F. Visual signs that corn germination is taking place are the appearance of the radicle root, coleoptile, and seminal roots. When temperatures are cooler, the germination process is slower and seedlings are more susceptible to disease, insects, and other damaging factors.

Emergence

Uniform emergence is one of the most important yield-influencing factors that growers should work to achieve. Delayed emergence can ultimately result in diminished yield.

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Cold, wet weather can lead to purple corn

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

For much of the eastern Corn Belt, it has been too wet to plant this spring. However, in some areas corn has been planted is emerging or in the early growth stages of development. One phenomenon that commonly occurs at the early stages of the growing season is the appearance of purple corn plants. Corn plants can turn purple for several reasons related to environmental factors such as:

  • Sunny days and cool nights (temps in the 40s to 50s F)
  • Soil pH lower than 5.5
  • Cool temperatures
  • Wet soil
  • Stresses that hinder the uptake of phosphorus
  • Herbicide injury
  • Soil compaction.

Because many fields have saturated soils and the forecast includes cooler nights and continued wet weather, producers may see some purple plants in their fields. Purpling in corn due to cooler weather most often occurs when plants are in the V2 to V5 growth stages.

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How long can a corn seed hold its breath?

By Andy Westhoven, AgriGold regional agronomist

At this point in the calendar, undoubtedly, there are many corn fields planted around the area. Just as undoubtedly, planting conditions will be like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears — some will be too cold and wet, some too hot and dry, and some just right. The role as an agronomist usually travels down the road of the first two situations in Goldilocks’ tale — less than ideal planting conditions. Somewhere in the eastern Corn Belt, after a corn field has been planted, a torrential rainfall will occur and/or there will be a cold period where a grower might wonder, “What is to become of the corn seed I just planted? How long can it last in the soil before rotting and dying?”

Last season almost gave growers a false impression of corn emergence when most fields emerged in about 8 days.

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No need to switch hybrid maturities yet

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

In many areas of the Eastern Corn belt planting has been delayed due to wet spring weather. With the continued planting delays some growers may begin to wonder if they should switch to earlier maturing hybrids.

When considering late-planted corn, it is important to keep in mind that hybrids can adjust the amount of Growing Degree Days required to reach maturity. In this C.O.R.N Newsletter Article, Ohio State’s Peter Thomison states: “In Ohio and Indiana, we’ve observed decreases in required heat units from planting to kernel black layer which average about 6.8 growing degree days (GDDs) per day of delayed planting. Therefore a hybrid rated at 2800 GDDs with normal planting dates (i.e. late April or early May) may require slightly less than 2600 GDDs when planted in late May or early June, i.e. a 30 day delay in planting may result in a hybrid maturing in 204 fewer GDDs (30 days multiplied by 6.8 GDDs per day).” Because hybrids can adjust their required GDDs, late-planted hybrids can still reach physiological maturity before first killing frost in the fall.

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Improve yields with uniform emergence

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

Two aspects of stand establishment in corn often discussed by agronomists are emergence and seed spacing. “Picket fence” spacing in corn allows plants to grow efficiently while minimizing competition between them. More importantly to achieving high yields, however, is uniform emergence. Plants that are just one leaf collar behind (due to uneven emergence) significantly reduce yield. According to Paul Jasa, University of Nebraska Extension ag engineer, “When a plant develops ahead of its neighbor, it hurts yield dramatically. It’s going to vary somewhat from year to year, but a plant lagging behind those around it becomes a weed.”

Uniform emergence is critical to maximizing yield potential. To achieve uniform emergence, several factors must be taken into consideration.

 

Soil moisture

Soil moisture at planting is an important part in ensuring uniform emergence. Seed should be planted into enough moisture to allow for germination.

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Growing degree days and emergence timing

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

A great deal of field work has been done over the past few weeks. As corn is being planted across the eastern Corn Belt and another growing season has begun, it will be time to walk and scout fields. Once corn is planted, the next critical event will be uniform emergence. Many producers have read or heard that it takes about 100 to 120 Growing Degree Days (GDDs) for corn to emerge, but what does that mean?

A GDD (also referred to as Growing Degree Units) is a calculation based on daily high and low temperatures. This calculation helps to predict stages of growth in corn based on an accumulation of heat units or GDDs. The basic formula for calculating GDDs is: add the daily maximum temperature to the daily minimum, divide by 2, then subtract 50. The value calculated by this formula is the total number of GDDs accumulated in one day.

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Uniformity – Setting the stage for high corn yields

By Kyle Poling, Pioneer Hi-Bred Field Agronomist

“Variability” is not a word any farmer wants to use to describe one of their corn fields. While uniformity during the periods of germination, emergence, and nodal root formation is the goal, there are many management practices and environmental conditions that can impact this objective.

Corn germination is triggered by absorption of water. Corn kernels must absorb approximately 30% of their weight in water before the germination process begins. A seeding depth of 2 inches has often been found to provide the most consistent combination of moisture, temperature, and seed-to-soil contact for uniform germination and emergence. Inadequate seed-to-soil contact, a dry seedbed, or a rapidly drying seed zone may provide less than optimum absorption of water, causing the germination process to slow or stop completely. Additionally, corn kernels that absorb excessively cold water (less than 50 degrees F) during the first 24 to 48 hours of germination may experience serious injury or death, resulting in erratic emergence.

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Attack planting with a sound agronomic plan and timely decisions

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

As spring weather warms up and conditions are conducive to field work, Ohio’s growers will have to deal with several challenges in the coming weeks. Prioritization and timely management will be key to success in the spring of 2019.

The wet fall of 2018 resulted in an extended harvest and significant delays in field work. For many growers, harvest was not completed until December or later. As a result, very little fall tillage and/or fall herbicide applications were completed across the eastern Corn Belt. With a lack of tillage and herbicide applications, weeds, such as marestail, will be more prevalent in Ohio’s fields this spring. Making timely weed control actions this spring will be a critical part of achieving successful weed control this year. As always, follow herbicide labels, use correct rates, and apply under optimum conditions to effectively control weeds.

With additional field work needed to be performed after a wet fall, time management will be an especially important consideration this spring.

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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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