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CROP WATCH

By Staff | Jun 20, 2014

The middle of June has just been reached and it may be time to view the crops to evaluate them fairly. The planting season, while convoluted, was still incredibly better than that of 2013. Nobody will have to plant corn on June 22 or soybeans on July 14 this year. While those crops turned out decently last fall, we typically do not get an extra three weeks of good growing conditions in the fall. Much of northwest and northern Iowa were in various stages of drought until two to three weeks ago. Then miraculously much of that territory received 6 to 12 inches of rain. While there was some degree and amount of run-off a portion of that moisture filled the shallow and mid-level of the profile. Now we don’t have to fear the warmer weather that could have greatly stressed the rapidly growing plants.

A few growers have quietly stated that this crop is one of the better looking ones in recent years, and their yield prospects look very good. Why they might be quiet in those assertions might be due to the attention they are paying to points west that have been getting hammered with flooding and hailstorms. First it was north central and eastern Nebraska getting hammered twice. Then Rich Pope, the people’s pope, telling on WHO radio on Monday about his town receiving more than 10 inches over the weekend.

Then the storms plowed through northern Iowa Monday afternoon and evening. I was near Humboldt and Clarion when the fronts came through. The clouds had that green color, which is always indicative of swirling activity in the winds. Suddenly the temps dropped 21 degrees in about a minute as the front hit. From 83 degrees down to 62 degree, which signified the need to get out of the field. The recent storms have been due to the volcanic caused global cooling in the Arctic as the cold air jousts with the warm Gulf air that is making its way into the Midwest after a three year absence.

Crop growth

Much of the corn has gone through its ugly stage where it had to send out its root system to pull in the needed nutrients for growth. Many fields are looking better, and they should, since July 1 is not far away and most fields in central Iowa are still in the V6 to V8 growth stage.

What has happened in this convoluted planting season is that we went weeks with cool temps and few accumulated GDUs. Thus the spread in plant development stages is quite tight. The tallest corn in protected areas is at V9. In open areas, it is V8 while the later planted corn plants are near V6. There are lots of heat units that still need to be accumulated by the plants, and having such cool night time temps slows down plant development. Currently it looks like the July 18 through 25 time period will be a popular time for corn tasseling and silking.

It took forever for many trees and perennials to leaf out. The vine plants that have been planted for over a month are still less than 2 inches tall in most gardens. Members of the cucurbit have a higher thermal window than do corn and many veggies.

In most places, the soybean plants that were planted two to three weeks late are still growing at a very slow pace. Since those plants can’t flower until they reach V5 there are likely to be many fields that will not flower by Saturday, the longest day of the year.

Those yellow fields of soybeans have been very noticeable. While some of the yellowing has to be due to dry, high pH soils the patterns did not fit. If you study plant mineral science the minerals requite to form cell walls are boron, zinc and copper. Those required to form chlorophyll are boron and zinc with manganese also involved. If those elements have been short in supply to the plant it can’t make the chlorophyll with is the green color involved. On top of that there are several soybean varieties which have been among the high yielders the past few years. A weakness that several of them hold is poor IDC ratings. So far farmers who have tried to minimize the problems have used either better varieties, in furrow applied mineral solutions, or foliar applications. So far the in furrow products do a good job but are more expensive than growers like to spend. At this point applying a mineral mix may be the best choice.

A pertinent question is might SDS become a problem this summer. Three of us that understand soybean physiology were visiting last week about that topic. We all thought the chance of a problem was enhanced this year based on what we were seeing for soil conditions, crop color, and better understanding of the disease. In 2010, we all noticed yellower colorations of the bean plants during a very wet spring. Then if the recent papers from Edinburg Medical School and the Wisconsin Dept of Natural Resources Dept and University of Wisconsin are correct on the finding of a new entity in plants, there could be problem at some level this summer. Only time and use of a SEM could tell for sure.

Weed scouting

By now, most acres that need an herbicide application have received it. It is a time when some of the pre residual products have been applied for two months now and are wearing out. In many fields the control of broadleaves is at 98 percent on the high side, which is agronomically very good, but cosmetically unacceptable. In the past 15 years, growers have gotten used to 100 percent. What will be the standard in the future, especially if row crop cultivation is something that farmers don’t want to do anymore?

Now is the time frame when universities typically have their herbicide field days to demonstrate the effectiveness of new product and programs. Look to see what might be in your area. Other sciences that could come into play could be seed treatments and biologicals that have been tested and trialed in the past 20 years while we were enamored with traits. Along with that work are newer biologicals that could degrade weed seed to reduce. These may be referred to as AMF or arbuscular mychorrizal fungi.

News on insects

While several of us have been watching and digging for CRW larvae and have not been finding them, apparently they are hatching now in Illinois. Thus fields that are planted to corn, have had problems in the recent years or held lots of beetles will need to be scouted soon to see if there are the small larvae chewing on the roots. If you find them at more than an occasional one with corresponding browned roots the question then is what you should do. In the past, Furadan was labeled for post-control. Its effects were quite variable and erratic. One product that should be considered as an early rescue would be Safe-Strike, a mixture of neem and carange oil. It has looked good in limited field work as a CRW rescue.

The other news from our eastern neighbor is that Japanese beetles have emerged and are beginning to feed. Anyone with grapes, cherry trees, rose bushes, apple or plum trees, corn plants or corn silks may want to watch for high levels of the ravaging beetle. On the hort side the best control using a pheromone trap with lures on the corner of your field may be the best control method.

Anyone needing to sidedress with a tractor and mounted or pulled ground rig had better get that done soon. Once tissue tests or soil N tests verify that N is deficient stabilized 32 percent of top dressed poly urea granules are the preferred method as it protects the material from loss. I did visit with a top rated agronomic consultant who did the research on using strained, top grade molasses as the stabilizer in his programs with very good results.

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

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