As October turns into November, more growers will be finishing up with their harvest and getting their combines cleaned up and back into the sheds for another harvest next fall.
The best we can say about the fall weather is that it has been erratic, but still nothing like the muddy mess that occurred in 2009, when harvest dragged into the Christmas season.
The rain predicted for Tuesday and Wednesday sounds like a sure thing. That would mean there will still be a fair percentage of corn that will be harvested after Nov. 1.
There are far fewer fields of beans left in the fields, so more growers felt a sense of urgency to work on them first and let the corn field dry a few more days.
If measurable rains materialize, we can add that total to what has fallen since the plants turned brown and surmise that those amounts have moved into the deeper profile.
The pace of harvest since early last week has been quite rapid with quite a few good days in succession. Corn moistures have continued to drop, though the current pace is much slower than it was a few weeks ago.
Once we get into the month of November, field dry-down is historically quite low as the colder air temps are not conducive for moisture evaporating out of the kernels.
Some of the growers with the latest planted fields may be left wondering if they should take the grain at moistures up to and over 30 percent or take the chance of leaving the fields until next spring, which would fit a no-tiller.
This idea is already being talked about in part of extreme northern Iowa. The percent harvested varies by region with decent percentage of growers in drier regions beginning to finish up by early in the week.
At this writing on Monday night, I am in northern Iowa after making a quick drive from Ames, to Lanesboro, then Osage and on to Cedar Falls.
Even some of the counties up there had less than half of their corn acres planted. The fields that were planted late, with some not tasseling until mid-August, have been too wet to harvest until the last few days.
Soybean harvest is 95 percent complete in many areas. Getting the first snowflakes makes everyone remember that beans don’t do well if deep snow falls, so everyone was hurrying as much as possible.
Yields on corn remain erratic, with a range of 30 to 230 bushels per acre on corn and a range of 25 to 55 being common in beans.
Now that more of the fields being harvested were planted late, the erratic performance has perhaps gotten worse.
Those planted into better drained fields are sometimes yielding well, partly because the plants took advantage of the September rains and late-October frost to fill.
Red root rot
One new disease that is being talked about the past week is one called red root rot on corn.
That word is coming from Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. More states will likely be added to the list.
How it is described is that corn plants died suddenly and the roots just rotted off. When people dug or pulled the plants and split the stalks and crown region the tissue is a bright pink or red.
This color typically indicates a major infection by fusarium, or its asexual counterpart, gibberella.
Why might this be happening? First we have to remember that most of the soils were saturated and cold through late May. The small plants have limited amount of acquitted resistance.
Then if you study work done by a USDA-ARS soil microbiologist who presented at an ISU weed seminar two years ago, he showed that an explosion of the soilborne fusarium occurred after a systemic herbicide had decimated the pseudomonas fluorescence population.
If the Pf acts as the sheriff in the soil, and the sheriff is killed, the bad guys flourish.
Different descriptions are listed on the web and several state that a fungus called phoma is principally to blame. But the other common disease, where phoma is the causal organism, is spring black stem in alfalfa.
In that case it is phoma medicaginis or a member of the same genus and the lesion is black.
If we learn this disease has become widespread and that is has affected some of the genetic families that are recognized as being better on Goss’ wilt then we have to start by quizzing the genetic suppliers if they have recognized this problem as a new disease caused by a new pathogen.
If there is no new pathogen then the Null hypothesis would suggest it is more a problem resulting either from plants being more susceptible or old pathogens combining in a more aggressive tandem.
Someone asked today if fusarium can affect soybeans, and the answer is yes. One form that most people know it as sudden death syndrome. Might we be looking at another chimera disease that involves this new micropathogen?
Stalk samples being observed at high magnifications may lend a few clues. Corn growers may take the added step of applying a pseudomonas dry powder to the seed to bolster the Pf population to fight fusarium.
Weed control, no-till
The best overall weed control that I have seen in bean fields came from the new Japanese product known as Kumei 485 or the AI behind Zidua, Fierce and Anthem.
People who follow weed control plots have gotten to observe the degree of control from these products the last three years and have been impressed. The main question about them was how long they would perform in wet years as well as in dry weather.
This year the control they provided ranged from very good to extremely good to perfect. In many cases, the only post application that was needed was one for volunteer corn control.
Make sure how each of the products was assembled and may need to be complemented to control weeds that can slip through.
The main issue that will be created for most bean growers is that once they find out these products may work so well that no post-application may be needed, they will begin to ask if they should be paying for any tech fee on their soybean seed.
What needs to be addressed are several large seeded broadleaf weeds such as cockleburs and sunflowers. Add marestail and whatever category it falls into.
Growers who have had problems with this weed will have to apply a fall application to prevent early winter germination and emergence or the same in spring with an application of a burndown mix prior to its appearance.
No-tillers often have problems with weeds such as dandelions, thistles, or some other tough, deep-rooted perennials.
Fall is the time to apply some systemic growth regulator product to control them. These will be much more effective than spring applications.
There should still be time to get any fields needing soil sampling to get that task done. Most labs can get the results back within a week. If you fit this category remember to get a portion of the samples tested for micros.
Also make sure you get the results tabulated and that the reports include base saturation. It is a lot easier to develop a fertility plan that can help solve problems if you have the latter.
Ratios can be essential if you know what you are doing and are looking for, and you have seen the benefit of calcium sulfate.
Last spring I mentioned that the National Lab for Agriculture and the Environment – or the Soil Tilth Lab in old terminology – was conducting its third year of trials with the fertilizer called Perfect Blend.
What we saw in the fields where it was applied were generally larger, faster growing plants that held more foliage and stayed healthier.
So far the results we are seeing this fall have been good. Some corn fields have been showing 20 to 36 bpa yield increases.
We will learn more as more growers begin to pull more data from their yield maps.
Bob Streit is an independent crop consultant and columnist for Farm News. He can be reached at (515) 709-0143.
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