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CROP WATCH

By Staff | Jul 2, 2010

What a difference three days make. As of Sunday morning many people in parts of Iowa and Nebraska were getting ready to start building an ark and getting pairs of animal rounded up. 22 days of rain in one month was getting kind of tough to accept without getting philosophical about it.

We realize that several meteorologists are still predicting a drought for the summer, but after receiving 15 to 18 inches of rain in an eight- to 10-day time span, the damage it did to the crops and psyche was huge. It’s too bad we can’t bank the majority of those inches and parcel it out when we need it during July and August.

By developing a deeper profile we are able to, but the profile was full before the wet spell began.

If one drives through parts of the state that received the deluges it is easy to see that the condition of the crop has gone downhill on many acres. Whether it is a field with half the acres with water two feet deep still standing of the next field where half of the acreage is a very light yellow color, any knowledge of farming tells anyone listening that the field is in trouble.

Corn damage

Many parts of the state have now been hit with excessive moisture. Southern and southeastern Iowa were the ones bearing the brunt of the storms through April and May. In June the storm track moved north and the northcentral counties got pounded. Northwest Iowa got into the act last week as big storms hit that respective area.

That rain all has to go somewhere, as was proven in 2008. Subsequent downstream flooding will depend on whether the next week is wet or dry.

I was up in Humboldt and Webster counties several times in the last week. Last Friday one could see the standing water and ponds.Things still didn’t look too bad. Then another weekend of rains hit and the damage has now become more visible.

Those plants in the standing water have now turned a gray color and taken on the appearance of a pine apple plant. They have run out of oxygen and have drowned. In another week they will have collapsed in most of those ponds and the pertinent question will be if the farmer has the courage or bull headedness to replant even though the calendar says July.

The second area of damage is the many fields and sections within the fields that have turned light green or even yellow. The amount of volatilization has had to be very high as soil and air temps stayed high during the wet week.

While many operators were asking about side-dressing additional nitrogen, having access to the right machinery and being able to get into the fields were critical parameters. With many fields having areas within that are now 5 to 6 feet tall, the window is closing for many operators.

The one good thing that has been demonstrated is that the greater amounts of residue that were left on the surface did help to prevent the big gullies typically formed by excessive run-off. The role of that residue is to absorb the kinetic energy held by the raindrops.

Starting several weeks ago it became common to see corn plants that began to show a dark green/light green streaking pattern on the leaves. If you dug out the “Be your own crop doctor” pamphlet it was easy to match the color and pattern of that streaking between your plant and the one known to be deficient in one or more micro-nutrients.

If you note that streaking or coloration on the plants in your field(s) there is still time to apply a micro-nutrient mix to the crop and minimize plant injury and yield loss.

The soybean crop

It was hard to believe, but a major percentage of the yellow beans that existed a week ago did turn a better shade of green during the week. What was needed was a return to aerobic conditions in the soil. That let the nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the nodules begin their work

Not all of the fields have made that color change, so in the next week we are hoping to see them turn green yet.

The big news with soybeans was that many of the fields are growing a tremendous crop of weeds and volunteer corn. Almost every section contains one or more fields where they were planted without a residual herbicide and the operator has been unable to get to the field to spray.

As those weeds get into the 18- to 24-inch range they become tougher to kill and more competitive with the desired crop. Thus many growers are mixing up their own witches brew of products that when pieced together close the gaps that otherwise would let weeds through to survival.

Those operators realize that the products being applied on this next trip have to be effective or the weeds could survive through the summer and really affect yields. Most growers and agronomists are forced to depend on their knowledge base and experience they accumulated 12 to 15 years ago and have not used much in recent years.

This happening does make obtaining good weed control difficult, but that is just going to be how it is. More growers are realizing that weeds are much easier to kill either before they emerged or before they got big.

A common thought is that soybean growers need two or more new residual products or new methods of using currently registered herbicides. There are several on display and in trials at Midwestern sites. Several of them have caught the attention of crop advisors who are searching for the next big tool to use in the war against weeds.

For a few years editors and weed control advisors advocated, to a recalcitrant audience, that several different mode-of-action herbicides should be used, or we risked creating a more tolerant weed population. Time and the reaction of weed genetics have proven those advisors correct. Now the burden is on everyone as seeds and pollen can drift many miles.

That makes me ask if anyone else has noticed that the Canadian thistle looks like it has replaced the wild rose as our state flower. Those blue flowers seem to be everywhere.

Scouting crops

We are entering the critical stages of corn and soybean development in the state. With corn nearing tasseling it is easier for leaf diseases to become established on the plant, as the plant now has to expend energy on the reproductive tasks.

If you had not already done so, locate a 24- to 36-power hand lens, or loupe, for getting a close up view of plant tissue and any suspected lesions. Many of those lesions can only be seen in their early stages with about 30X magnification.

The next task is to study the guidelines and ID books as to what diseases tend to be a problem in your respective areas. Last year the corn and soybean producer groups helped to fund the extension staff in their efforts to write and publish the new scouting guides. If you don’t have those guides to carry with you when scouting, stop by your country offices to get your copy.

Remember that 2010 could be a bad white mold season. It seems to operate on a regular interval basis and this season is scheduled to be a problem year. Soil temp, moisture amounts and variety susceptibility will all play a role in how big of a problem we see.

Stay dry for the next week and good luck in getting your work all done. Enjoy the Fourth of July weekend and remember why we still celebrate the holiday.

We may have to fight to retain that liberty.

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