It is now July and typically the start of warmer and drier weather. And for the southwest three-fourths and western two-thirds of the state that does not seem possible. Or will it be and was June weather just a peak at what is to come.
At the Streit ranch, just west of Ames, in June we had four different rains totaling four-tenths. The lawns are brown, the corn is typically rolling leaves, and the fruit trees that have not been watered are dropping their fruit.
Even during the 2012 “worst drought in 50 years” that did not happen. Perhaps the weather will shift to a wetter trend, but no one is holding their breath.
It appears that it can shift from El Nino to La Nina over one weekend. Until now that has been considered unlikely if not improbable.
During the past spring there have been forewarnings from a number of crops people who were listening to different climatologists who were not afraid to challenge the status quo.
In response they were stressing the value of working to develop a deep-root system and root profile, managing their fertility program and equipment so they could apply more of their plant nutrition closer to the time of use and closer to the root zone and trying to learn what could be done nutrition wise to help the plants to be more drought tolerant and impervious to stress conditions.
It is a long ways to harvest, but we may get to see who did the best job of picking up enough ideas that their fields and crops tolerate whatever conditions occur during July and August.
The first tassels began to appear in late June in the Midwest. This was earlier than normal and due to the burst of heat for the last three weeks. It was matched by the concurrent appearance of the silks, meaning the timing of each event was matched, which is good for decent pollination.
In past dry years and past droughts as in 1983 and 1988 the most negatively affected hybrids had silks that emerged late and after the pollen had been shed.
Corn breeding efforts were dedicated to lessen or eliminate the timing mismatch and we are now seeing more hybrids that send the silks out as soon as the tassels begin to emerge.
It is typical that commodity people lend a lot of airtime to how well pollination and how important this is.
However, over the years, more yield is lost due to stress and lack of moisture in the two weeks after pollination when the kernels can and do abort.
The silking so far looks good. The main questions now will be what this upcoming hot spell will do for pollen shed and kernel retention. Having serious leaf rolling indicates the plants are under stress.
It is still possible to see fields that are very light green in color. Deciding what to do about it is tough, especially in a drought. Is the problem lack of , loss in N, low copper, zinc, manganese levels, low molybdenum levels, or lack of moisture to allow the roots to pull in what is in the soil?
Deciding which factor is at fault is something that requires good investigation.
As dry as things are now we will likely see additional N go on using the Y-drops or foliar N.
The most common foliar product we are seeing applied is the Kugler KXRN out of a Nebraska plant. It has very good chemistry and chemists behind it.
In many dry years insects seem to be able to attack plants with greater ferocity and in greater numbers. One species that demands attention, especially for those who planted Non-Bt corn is the European corn borer.
The first brood was supposed to be showing up as shot hole feeding in the whorl near June 15. They were very scarce.
They are showing up now at treatable populations in scattered fields two to three weeks ahead of schedule. Be sure to check yours soon so you don’t suffer damage from the tunneled stalks.
Using the theory that ECB populations reach their peak very five years and the last peak was 1997, 2017 was slated to be the peak year with 2016 being the year when populations may reach treatable levels.
With the extra growing degree units will be possibly have a third generation as they do further south? It is possible. Parts of Texas have as many as five in certain years.
Rootworm larvae continue to be found when dug up and feeding on roots. In fields with a history of heavy feeding farmers should be checking for the larvae. What to do about them is a tougher question as there are only a few labeled products with all of them based on rain to carry them into the root zone.
Nicotinic acid foliar-applied has looked good with the larvae appearing to move off the roots before curling up and dying.
Don’t look now but the Japanese beetles are back in limited numbers. Hopefully, the numbers and their feeding stay low.
Across the Midwest they made a big appearance three or four years ago and then declined sharply in number.
Has everyone gone into their corn fields and looked at the lower sections of the corn plants for the small, brownish bruising and lesions? One may have to pull off the partially abscised leaves to look for the lesions.
So far it is appearing in a very high percentage of both plants and fields. Doing nothing about the same problem as occurred in 2015 is likely to guarantee the same results in 2016.
All the heavy volunteer corn appearing in the bean fields is evidence that most corn fields had the problem. If you are going to apply the BioEmpruv is can be applied with a high clearance spray or airplane.
Other products could be tank mixed with it.
If a field is being sprayed and leaf streaking is highly visible it is still possible to apply micronutrients to bolster plant health and drought tolerance.
In most areas the evaluations can be made resulting from the first post-emerge application.
In many cases the waterhemp plants survived at greater frequency that hoped for. Weed size greater than 4 inches, true PPO resistance, application of less than full rates and lack of moisture to allow weed growth/death are all possible reasons for escapes.
An additional thought by a trained person was that the inclusion of the MSO caused greater leaf burn and the chemicals did not make it into the plant.
So that will cause more Cobra or Blazer Ultra to be used. Last year a similar situation led to severe leaf burn and the need for moisture and rain to regrow the leaf tissue.
This is where the Brazilian ‘Full Tech’ that lessens the burn by 90 percent while improving weed kill will fill an area of need.
Bob Streit is an independent crop consultant and columnist for Farm News. He can be reached at (515) 709-0143.
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