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CROP WATCH

By Staff | Jul 1, 2011

The summer of 2011 is rolling along and headed for the traditional dates of July 1 and July 4. That is when we like to see if our corn reached knee high and when we rate the first part of the growing season.

In other words “Was the first part of the growing season good or bad for the crops?”

Observing things while driving down the road we can’t say it is the best looking crop out of the last 10 as there is too much unevenness, waterholes and other imperfections to hold that distinction.

Might it be a very good crop that will help to replenish the expected low carryout supplies? Possibly.

The crops in this state and surrounding border areas are good in that they got planted within the optimum window and haven’t flooded out.

Both major crops have been slowed by cool conditions and too much soil moisture. That may change shortly. What happens in July and August will determine how yields turn out, just like always.

The erratic weather continues as we were still wearing jackets and hooded sweatshirts to stay warm just last week.

Now the predictions are for more 90-degree temperatures that could speed the crop along to either more growth in corn or the start to flowering in the soybeans.

We could use a burst of heat again to move the crop along in development. In many recent years a portion of the corn acres were on schedule to begin tasseling the week following the July 4 holiday.

This year it appears that this event will be occurring more in the July 20 to 27 time frame. Things could change, but the largest influencing factor on grain drydown the past few seasons seemed to be heavily dependent of the percentage of corn fields and corn plants in them still alive with green leaves and filling.

As to markets the old axiom that what goes up must come down proved true again. Living, working and being surrounded by agriculture makes it easy for us to see the fundamentals.

Getting a handle on the technical and financial side of the markets is tougher as we often don’t see how or why the economic unrest in Europe should influence what we earn for the meat and grain we produce.

Then we have the commercials and their actions. While many of those individuals like to view themselves as gods, most of us see them more as a cross between Chicken Little and Blackbeard.

But we have to live with the consequences of their actions and foibles.

ISU weed day

Mike Owen and crew had their ISU herbicide field day last week outside Ames. The crowds are beginning to grow again as more people are realizing that there is again a need for new products and possibly modes of action.

The day before was cold, wet and very raw so everyone was hoping for a bit of sunshine and warmth.

The day was not perfect, but only a light jacket was needed in the morning. The plots were arranged by crop, tillage type, timing of application and herbicide family.

The attendees heard a short presentation if they arrived by 8 a.m., then picked up their book and began to do a walk-through of plots of interest to them.

There they could see what product or product mix produced the cleanest crop or provided the foundation weed control most likely to keep weed competition to a minimum.

It was good to see several new products that have been viewed only in research trials and held the promise of being labeled and on the market for the 2012 season.

The major change that most attendees had in mind was the acknowledgement that resistant weeds had become a reality for many growers in Iowa and was now something that crop advisors and growers now must deal with.

For 45-plus-year-old agronomists that is easier because they have lots of experience working with traditional herbicides.

Those younger have dealt mostly with an herbicide tolerant world. Playing catch-up and learning older chemistry is going to be challenging to many.

I saw several products in both corn and soybeans that looked very good.

There were the established favorites and several new Japanese-based products that have been in plots for a few years, but never got close to commercialization.

That should change for 2012.

Spraying results

While talking about weeds we have to remember that the windy and wet weather has been very challenging for growers to get their post applications made.

Some operators were forced out for 15 consecutive days. Now that most have gotten in and made their applications they get to see how well each weed was controlled. Will the fields be very clean or will there be weeds that are still standing tall and healthy?

For years researchers have been checking out weed populations in various parts of the state that escaped weed control with a non-selective herbicide.

At first their analyses worked with determining where resistance was a dominant or recessive trait and whether classic survival percentages matched mathematical models. The percentage of survivors remained low.

In recent years the populations have begun to rise and are expected to continue to do so and at an increasing rate. The current advice is to rotate modes of action and use overlapping MOAs to keep the weeds guessing.

Using the same program and product every year invites weed shifts and the creation of resistant weeds.

The crop appearance

The corn plants are growing rapidly now with many now in the V8 to V10 stage or even taller. That sets tasseling as beginning in about three weeks. Many have greened up, but there are still quite a few with large yellowed areas or where many of the plants have a streaked appearance.

Hopefully owners of those fields have already sent in leaf samples to their analytical lab for a tissue test to determine which minerals are deficient.

There is still time for testing and applications for operators who are hoping to maximize yields.

There are more people discussing tissue testing and how improving on this diagnostic tool could raise overall yields by a substantial amount.

In the last month there have been good articles covering this topic. Now they need to address what mineral deficiencies relates to certain plant maladies. It only makes sense that there would be consequences to nutrient shortages.

Bugs

The two insects of the past two weeks have the appearance include the European corn borer, as moths, in grassy ditches. Their eggs have hatched now and are present as small, early instar larvae in the whorls of non-Bt hybrids. The infestation numbers are generally less than 2 percent.

The second is the Japanese beetle. These miniature June bugs like to congregate near lights and towns, feeding on everything green.

Their numbers can be huge and have been causing more problems in states to the east. Watch for them and their feeding.

Diseases

The disease of the week might be that ISU’s plant pathologist Alison Robinson found Goss’ Wilt wilting corn plants in a plot near Carroll.

The bacterial-related disease ended up being a major problem in the Midwest in 2010. We knew that it could overwinter in non-buried residue and could pose a risk to the 2011 corn crop.

Because we have almost no experience working with it we all have to learn how it is going to act and possibly spread this season.

The recommendations that were given during the winter meeting season included planting tolerant varieties.

The other guidance that existed was to make sure that your corn plants had no nutritional deficiencies that would leave them vulnerable.

Does everyone have their Goss’ Wilt detection kit?

Sudden Death Syndrome was a major yield robber in 2010. The high level of incidence and severity of infections was typically blamed only on saturated soils and early planting.

Now we see soils that might be as saturated as last year. The IPM newsletter and FB Spokesman have included articles about soilborne pathogens that are breaking through genetic and chemical control means this spring.

Locally we are seeing quite a few fields and stands being affected by these pathogens.

Within a month or two we will get to see if your preparations to limit disease losses this season were the right ones or should have included additional products or management steps.

Cross your fingers.

Bob Streit is an independent crop consultant and columnist for Farm News. He can be reached at (515) 709-0143.

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