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Agronomy Notebook



Critical stages to scout your corn fields

Corn needs a lot of tender loving care throughout the growing season and to raise a successful crop, it needs special attention during the following critical stages:

• At seedling emergence, young plants face many hurdles such as nutrient deficiencies, seedling diseases like Pythium and Stewart’s bacterial blight, slugs and insects like black cutworms. Adequate stand establishment is crucial for a good crop.

• At V3-V4 stage, make sure that weeds are in control. Apply post-emergence herbicides, if necessary. Even small weeds can affect yield.

• At V6-V8 stage, be sure to side-dress with nitrogen before the plants are too tall, if you are going to apply additional nitrogen. Check for deficiency of nutrients like sulfur, magnesium, zinc and other micronutrients.

• Pollination is the next most critical stage. Make sure that insects like Japanese beetles, western corn rootworm beetles are not clipping the silks. Use insecticides if needed to control these pests.… Continue reading

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Corn growth progressing quickly

The fast growth stage of most of the corn is kicking in. This is the time when you can almost watch the corn plants grow. It is now starting to grow rapidly from puny little seedlings to the juvenile stage and become adults. Corn plants are ready to hit the grand growth stage.

At V7 stage, the corn plant is already deciding how many rows of kernels it can put on. Row numbers are always in pairs and primarily controlled by the hybrid genetics but environmental factors such as population, water and nutrient availability, heat and drought can influence it. Depending on the conditions, a couple of rows may be added or subtracted from the genetic potential of the hybrid.

• During V8-V9, potential ear shoots start to develop at every above ground node except the upper six to eight nodes. Only the upper one or two ear shoots eventually form the ears.… Continue reading

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Assessing soybean stands

As the soybeans respond to the warmer temperatures and sunshine around the state, it is time to assess the stands to make sure they are setting things up for success this fall.

‘Most of the soybeans in Ohio are emerged and growing very fast. Now is the time for growers to access the quality and plant populations of their fields,” said Jeff Rectenwald, Asgrow DEKALB agronomist. “This weekend there has been some hail and growers will be in fields checking plant populations.”

Ohio State University and other university research from throughout the Midwest research found that base soybean populations as low as 100,000 can still produce solid yields. To get a stand count, Rectenwald suggests making a hula hoop out of three-eighths inch EVA tubing connected with a brass nipple connector. The hoop diameter should be 28.26 inches to help calculate 1/10,000th of an acre. The hoop should be thrown out in the field and the plants inside it should be counted and multiplied by 10,000.… Continue reading

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Double-crop considerations after wheat

In Mid-June last year we were running full bore with wheat harvest and double-crop soybeans because the hot and dry weather pushed things along rather quickly. This year, the wheat in places looks like it is turning rather quickly but when you get out in these fields it looks like the maturity is a little behind schedule. I think we’ll still probably be running quite a bit of wheat at the end of June and the beginning of July, which is about normal.

This year, with the wheat crop is pushing just a little later, there is still quite a bit of interest in double-cropping because we do have good soil moisture. The demand for the double-crop soybean seed has been strong this year from guys with a lot of wheat acres out.

In preparation for harvest it’s a good idea to leave 8 to 12 inches of stubble out there to maintain soil moisture. … Continue reading

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Plan to scout now

Finally corn and soybean fields are planted, are up and growing. Some growers were able to plant early and the crop emerged and started growing. For many other growers, corn and soybean planting didn’t start until the first to the middle of May and the crop struggled to get out of the ground due to cooler temperatures and water issues. Be it sidewall compaction, insect feeding, and disease, the emerging crop in 2013 had these issues to contend with. What happens in the next 80 to 90 days will have a major effect on maximizing yield potential. So much can happen and with uncertainty of the crop’s success, the need to scout all crop fields is very important and beneficial.

A good tool for part of your scouting plan is to carry the Corn and Soybean pocket Field Guide from Purdue or Ohio State University as well as pen and paper to record your findings.… Continue reading

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Assessing Ohio’s corn emergence issues

While the conditions for emerging crops have generally been close to ideal in many fields, problems have been showing up.

Dekalb Asgrow agronomist Jeff Rectenwald has come across some problems with crusting in fields.

“Soil crusting and crop emergence seems to be a widespread problem in Ohio this spring. This not a hybrid specific issue, it is environmental and soil type specific,” Rectenwald said. “Growers need to be scouting their fields to determine which fields may be a candidate for rotary hoeing.”

No-till seems to have helped the situation in at least one Clark County field planted in late April with a population of 34,000.

“There are no problems, a near perfect stand. So far, no-till this spring looks pretty good. In most cases it is less susceptible to pounding rains causing emergence and crusting problems,” Rectenwald said.

Soil crusting, of course, can result in uneven emergence, though uneven emergence can be the result of several other factors as well.… Continue reading

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Pythium problems showing up in Ohio

It is an unsettling sight no soybean grower wants to see — entire fields dying shortly after emergence. This, though, is an unfortunate reality in some fields around Ohio.

On May 14, Asgrow Dekalb agronomist Jeff Rectenwald was scouting fields for a customer in Auglaize County when he came across the aftermath of Pythium seedling blight.

“I ran across entire soybean fields dying from seedling blight as they were emerging from the soil surface,” Rectenwald said. “You can see the fungal lesion at the top of the hypocotyl’s arch as the soybeans were breaking the soil surface.”

The soybeans were planted on May 2 and will be replanted, Rectenwald said. Regular scouting around emergence is important in quickly identifying the problem.

Unfortunately, the rain and persistently cool soil temperatures this spring are optimum conditions for a large and diverse group of pathogens called water molds, according to Anne Dorrance, Ohio State University Extension plant pathologist. … Continue reading

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Evaluating early corn populations

Accurately assessing corn stands is one of the first crop scouting exercises Ohio corn growers should conduct on their fields. The 1/1000th acre method is commonly used to evaluate emerged corn seedlings. Count the number of seedlings in a length of row equal to 1/1000 of an acre based on row width (Table 1). Multiply the number of plants by 1,000 to get plants per acre. Repeat this at several locations throughout the field to determine an average.

I like to make a rope 17-feet 5-inches long and make a knot at both ends and drag it through the field making several counts along the way to get an accurate evaluation. Another method is to count 150 plants and measure the distance from start to finish with a measuring wheel. Divide the number of feet traveled into the appropriate factor in Table 1 to determine plant population. Because a longer row length is counted, the samples are more representative and fewer locations are required.… Continue reading

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The role of seed germination in a successful 2013

By John Brien, AgriGold agronomist

Planting is one of the most anticipated times of years for farmers. The weather warms up, the soils dry out and there is another opportunity for them to try their hands at producing that record yielding corn crop. High yields begin at planting and will not be finalized until harvest. One of the steps to high yield is getting the “dormant” corn seed to germinate.

Germination is simply the process that allows a seed to sprout or begin to grow. Although the definition is simple, the actual process is anything but simple. The germination of a corn seed requires soil moisture to “reawaken” the seed and adequate temperatures to speed along the enzymes and chemical reactions that allow the cells in the corn plant to grow and reproduce.

Corn growers know the importance of germination, but often don’t believe they have much of a role in that process.… Continue reading

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Reading soil test results

By Dave Nanda, Seed Consultants, Inc.

Labs may differ in the data presentation and analysis but your understanding of the basic items would help you in ordering fertilizers for your fields. A soil test is a way of estimating the nutrients that may be available to the crop. Keep the following points in mind as indicated in a report by Jim Johnson of OSU:

• The top section of the report identifies the soil sample; the middle tells you about the results; and the bottom indicates the recommendations.

• Cation Exchange Capacity or (CEC) indicates the particle size of the soil. Sand has low CEC and clay and organic matter have high CEC. Soil CEC ranges from 5 to 40.

• Organic matter is the percent of organic content of the soil. Ideally, you would like to have 5% organic matter (OM) but a number between 1% to 3% is more common.… Continue reading

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Prepare for larger soybean seed size this spring

By Jeff Rectenwald, Asgrow Dekalb Technical Agronomist

The 2012 growing conditions resulted in production soybean seed being larger in size for many seed products. Therefore, planting equipment manuals should be reviewed to determine the appropriate settings, calibrations, and disks for delivered seed. Seed size should be checked when seed is delivered to determine if different disks or other equipment may be required.

Should there be a need, ordering and purchasing now could save valuable planting season time.
Larger seed can be planted as efficiently as smaller seed providing planting equipment has been adjusted, calibrated, or retrofitted. If the planter is a vacuum metering type planter, refer to the manufacturer manual regarding disk size and manually check to see how seed fits within the disk cell. A larger disk should be selected if one seed cannot fit properly into a cell and a smaller disk used if two seeds can fit into a cell.… Continue reading

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Temperature swings can hurt wheat

Extreme changes in temperature are the biggest concern wheat producers have for the development of their crop this season, a Purdue Extension agronomist said.

Temperatures in recent weeks have risen to between 50 and 60 degrees and then dropped to single digits.

“The cycling of cold to warm temperatures is a great recipe for freezing, thawing and winter heaving,” Shaun Casteel said.

Winter heaving occurs when moisture in the soil expands as it freezes and then contracts as the ice thaws. The soil gets pushed up and down, shoving young plants higher out of the ground and exposing roots. The plants’ lack of access to soil moisture and soil contact could result in stand loss, Casteel said.

Another weather concern is that there has been little snow to protect wheat from extreme cold.

“A lot of wheat fields no longer have a blanket of snow for insulation, and they’re exposed to the cold weather,” Casteel said.… Continue reading

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Glyphosate Resistant Weeds

 

By Dave Nanda, Seed Consultants, Inc. 
Director of Genetics & Technology

Those of you who were able to attend our winter meetings heard from our Agronomy staff about the presence of glyphosate resistant marestail in Indiana and Ohio and how to control it. Listed below are some of the facts about glyphosate resistant weeds.

• Glyphosate resistant crops were introduced in 1996. It was a good technology which needed good stewardship to extend the use of this herbicide. It was adopted by the growers and quickly became popular because of the dramatic price decrease and ease of weed control in corn and soybeans.

• University Extension personnel and Crop Consultants advised the farmers against continuous use of glyphosate resistant corn and soybeans.

• However, trait, chemical and some seed companies were promoting it; growers liked the easy and cheap weed control system and everyone was trying to make quick buck.… Continue reading

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Fertilizer, soil pH and Cation Exchange Capacity

By Dave Nanda, 
Director of Genetics and Technology 
for Seed Consultants, Inc.

Soil pH, and Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) — how are they related and do they affect fertilizer inputs? Some of the facts below should clarify their relationship.

• Soils are made up of sand, silt, clay and organic matter. The CEC of a soil tells us about the texture of the soil. Soils with higher clay and organic matter content have higher CEC values. The CEC value of the soil in a field is fairly constant but can be changed over time with the addition of organic matter, through the use of cover crops and manure, for example.

• Positively charged particles are called cations and negatively charged particles are called anions. The CEC is the measure of how many negatively charged sites are available in the soil.

• According to David Mengel of Purdue University, most common soil cations are calcium, magnesium, potassium, ammonium, hydrogen and sodium.… Continue reading

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Changing soil pH on your farm

By Dave Nanda, Seed Consultants, Inc.

We have discussed what pH is and the importance of having balanced pH during the last three weeks. Many physical, chemical and biological processes necessary for crop survival, growth and yield are affected by soil pH. I would like to discuss how you can adjust the pH in the soils on your farm.

• For high yields we must balance soil pH depending on the crops we intend to grow. For growing corn, beans, wheat and alfalfa, we need to have a soil pH values of 6.0 to 6.8. Balanced pH is critical because it can affect nutrient availability, soil-applied herbicides and their degradation, potential for aluminum or iron toxicity, as well as nitrogen fixation by legumes.

• Some soils have a tendency to become acidic over time due to weathering of soil minerals and release of acidifying metals, leaching away of calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium, decomposition of organic matter, and application of ammonia-based fertilizers.… Continue reading

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Do crops have pH value preference?

By Dave Nanda, Seed Consultants, Inc.

In the last couple of weekly articles we discussed what pH value is and the importance of hydrogen for plant growth. As we discussed last week, hydrogen is one of the four elements essential for all life.

• Plants absorb hydrogen through water by a process called osmosis. This process is what makes the nutrients travel through the water into the plant. Soil pH plays an important role in water and nutrient uptake. We saw last summer that once a plant dies due to too much heat or lack of water, the late rains could not revive it.

• A pH neutral environment is suitable for most plants. However, the pH values required by corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa are somewhat different for optimum performance. Some examples of crop preferences for acidic or alkaline soils are given below:

• Potatoes and radishes like acidic soils with pH value of 5.0 – 5.5

• Soybeans and crimson clover like pH of 5.5 – 6.0

• Corn, cucumbers and tomatoes like pH of 6.0 – 6.5

• Alfalfa, celery, lettuce and onions like pH of 6.5 – 7.0

Since we have to grow different crops on the same ground, we need to adjust the pH values of our soils so they are suitable for most of the crops that we intend to grow.… Continue reading

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Hydrogen’s role in crop production

By Dave Nanada, Seed Consultants, Inc.

There are four basic elements which are needed by all plants; Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen and Nitrogen. The amount of hydrogen in the soil affects pH and the availability of other elements. The best pH range for most nutrients to be available is from 6.0 to 7.0. Nutrient deficiencies can be observed at both high and low pH values. So hydrogen plays a key role in the development of plants. Let’s look at all of these elements briefly:

• CARBON – All living beings contain carbon. Plants get carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air. With the help of water and sunlight, they produce starches and sugars by photosynthesis. Animals and humans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere; eat the products of photosynthesis as food and convert carbon into carbon dioxide during respiration and release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere.

• Hydrogen – As we all know, life cannot exist without water.… Continue reading

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Adapting agriculture in a changing climate

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension

I had the opportunity this year to observe and discuss the growing of corn in three separate locations across the globe.

  1. Here in Ohio, where I work for OSU Extension,
  2. In Ukraine where I had the opportunity to visit in March and again in August
  3. And in Nevada where I visited in early December.

Corn is an adaptable crop and is grown on almost every continent in the world. Its origins are here in the “new world” — corn was not observed by Europeans until after the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus. Reports I have read say he saw the crop in the West Indies. I am not sure if this was on his first voyage, but certainly the time period is around 1500. At any rate, it was a long time ago.

In Ohio, growers report varied yield results in 2012, mostly varied by planting date, and by when or if rain fell.… Continue reading

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Seed treatments made a difference in 2012

By Ty Higgins. Ohio Ag Net

For soybean growers across the country, 2012 was a unique year. A drought plagued most of the Midwest and commodity prices soared. As growers begin to prepare for the next growing season, they must consider adjusting agronomic practices to increase their bottom line. In 2012, the use of seed treatments had quite a positive impact on both emergence and stand for the soybean crop.

“It looks like it is going to be the second or third driest growing season on record,” said Palle Pederson, Soybean Seedcare Technology Manager for Syngenta. “You know that when plants are under stress, especially in dry conditions, it is so critical to get uniform emergence to outperform the weeds and also to get good protection on the root system. Healthy roots in many cases means higher yields.”

Starting the season strong is critical to increasing yield potential and protecting the seedling from early-season stress is crucial for a successful season.… Continue reading

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Coaching high corn yields

By Matt Reese

With the last seconds ticking off the clock in overtime, the best player squares up behind the three-point line for the win, he shoots — nothing but net. Victory!

Sometimes, everything comes together for a buzzer-beater victory in crop fields, but that kind of success doesn’t happen by chance, which makes success in corn production similar in many ways to success on a basketball court, according to Fred Below, a professor of crop physiology at the University of Illinois.

“You have to plan for high yields. We put together a management system that consisted of five individual factors that we know are important for yield and we put them together in in a systems package,” Below said at a recent BASF meeting in northwest Ohio. “Since there were five, we made the analogy to a basketball team where we have five pro players that represent the enhanced management system against five high school players which represent the grower’s current standard.”

In his 2009-2010 omission plot trials, Below looked at phosphorus fertility, nitrogen, genetics, population, and fungicide.… Continue reading

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