It’s another week into the 2014 growing season and the conditions for finishing planting of the 12 percent unplanted corn acres improved as favorable conditions returned the last two weeks.
The current NASS tally of unplanted corn acres in the states of Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and South Dakota still amount to about 19 percent of total intentions.
The state lagging the most is Wisconsin where 27 percent remained unplanted as of Sunday afternoon.
Now that we are into June, and many farmers who filed for prevented planting in 2013 fared better financially than those who remained committed and planted later than optimum, those acres may be at risk of not being planted to corn.
A few growers are remembering that our two best yield years in the last two decades were 1994 and 2004.
In both years, it was warm early with a dry spring and no hindrance to getting the crops in the ground.
The weather stayed dry, forcing the roots deeper than normal. Good rains fell during the grain-filling period and helped to maximize grain depth.
The rains began in mid- to late-June in both years and temperatures remained average or below through grain-fill.
Thus we have to wonder if 2014 will follow the same prescription.
There is a long way to go in the season and many negative things could occur. By Wednesday night we should have been able to see if predicted big rains could do harm to the crop and leach away some of the applied fertilizer.
Back to business
So the crop is in. What is next on the agenda?
For most farmers it will be a matter of surveying the fields to see if and how many grasses and weeds may have slipped through the pre-emerge herbicides.
What is showing up so far is a mixed bag.
There are fields that show near perfect of grasses and broadleaf weeds. Other fields show excellent control over most of the fields except for spots where water washed or areas of heavy weed seeds must exist.
Those can be cleaned up with some spot spraying.
In others, particularly in eastern Iowa now, where rainfall the last three weeks has been scarce, the pre-herbicides may not have been activated by the .25 to .5 inch of rain as required. In still more the small grasses are poking up about .25 to .5 inch.
It is impossible to tell if there will be enough reach-back with the herbicide to kill them. All one can do is keep watching those fields and undesirable plants to see if they are yellowing, twisting, drying up or thriving.
Then the question is do they apply a rescue post of Laudis, Capreno, Impact or Armezon?
Or if the crop is RR/LL then a post of the non-selective herbicide type will be applied before any broadleaves reach 3 inches.
If there was any summary, it is that a high percentage of farmers have gone back to apply post-emerge herbicides and are glad they did.
Most soybean fields also received a residual product or mix this season.
The battles with waterhemp the last two seasons convinced them it was the way to go.
Hopefully, Palmer amaranth will stay away. If it doesn’t then control measures against waterhemp will basically be used against another member of the pigweed family.
Weather, bug news
Jerry Carlson, who helped found the ProFarmer Newsletter and marketing service, personally knew and interacted with Iben Browning. Browning was the crop meteorologist who based his predictions on volcanic activity and how their aerosols and particulate matter caused reflection of sunlight back into space, resulting in cooling of land masses and water.
This cooling set up the ocean current that then delivered the weather to the different parts of the world.
Browning wrote several good books dealing with how climate affects everything humans do – how we produce food and where we live.
One thing his research taught him was that back in the 1200s and 1300s it got too cold in the Midwest for native Indians to survive, so they moved south to where it was warmer.
(This must have been due to car exhausts and industrial pollution.)
Two of his good books were, ‘The History of Men and Past and Future History.”
Old editions are sometimes available on Amazon. I added both to my collection.
Anyhow, where news on Browning fits is that typically we are scouting for lots of crop-damaging insects.
So far there have not been too many to find.
I have only seen one soybean field that showed much bean leaf beetle feeding. No one has seen much damage from black cutworms in corn, likely because most of our early-spring winds were from the north rather than the south.
Don’t forget about the BCW, but we likely will not see a big explosion in their populations before the plants reach V5 stage.
Now that we are or will soon be approaching V5, or 600 growing degree units, it will be time to begin doing root digs to look for the small, dark-headed root worm larvae.
If any sizeable population appears the question then is what management steps can be taken that prove to be successful in previous years.
Furadan is gone and its use was rainfall dependent. Lorsban did not get researched enough to gain a label. We have seen success with Safe-Strike applied as a directed foliar spray.
Doing nothing has not worked too well.
This is the time when the corn generally looks quite good. Little nitrogen has been lost so far. That could change.
It is also a time before any post herbicides have been applied that work by chelating out nutrients important to running their immune systems and other plant processes.
Thus they are still running at peak photosynthetic efficiency. Most farmers planted their seed at 2 inches or slightly deeper to help ensure sufficient root formation.
But if any of the post products are applied and begin to change the plants’ nutritional status, growers need to respond by recognizing the problem and supplying what is being tied up.
Thus every grower should now take a look at his fields, remember the sight, and try to maintain that level of sufficiency now through the end of the season.
On some fields, I can see early streaking. Some of that may be occurring since the plant’s rapid growth requires lots of nutrients.
In other places there may be actual deficiencies in the soil or inability of the plants to access them.
The right microbes are needed in the soil to solubilize the minerals making them available to root uptake. If you begin to see the same streaking and lack the recent soil analyses to verify soil deficits or sufficiency it will be best to send in tissue tests shortly for lab analysis.
Keep a close eye on fields and recognize what you are seeing. Trust your judgment and instincts.
Know where to look things up or who to ask that may give you an unbiased answer.
Bob Streit is an independent crop consultant and columnist for Farm News. He can be reached at (515) 709-0143.
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