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CROP WATCH

By Staff | Jul 22, 2016

For the first time since late May central Iowa caught a good rain. In fact it was a 3- to 3.5-inch total for the Sunday early morning to early Monday morning time frame.

Coupled with the prior week’s total of 1.1 inches it was 11 time as much as fell in all of June.

In ways it was beneficial since most farmers rarely turn down a measurable rain just after the corn has pollinated and after going nearly a month since the last good rain fell.

In other ways it was a negative in that higher yields will create lower grain prices. We actually need a short crop over a big area.

Lastly the recent rains came with strong winds which damaged buildings and crops. Towns and farmers who are in the affected areas are faced with the task of cleaning up and picking up the pieces and their lives.

I have been there and done that. It is no fun. For me it was an F2 on July 12, 1971. If you are looking to lend a hand there are some people and communities who now need your help.

July is also the month for the many county fairs. They are designed to bring the community together and help 4-H members focus on their goal of their chosen project, be it cattle, hogs, sheep, construction, sewing or a multitude of others of their choosing.

Getting the blue or purple ribbon or any accomplishment may seem trivial to an adult, but it can mean the world to a person working on a project for the first time.

Crop ratings

State by state crop ratings show that our two major crops in Iowa have improved slightly in the last few weeks, where both are rated at 79 percent (corn) and 80 percent (soybeans) good to excellent. Nebraska is at 80 percent and 77 percent, while Missouri is 71 percent and 67 percent.

The lowest major grain producing state in the east is Ohio at 70 percent and 66 percent, while Kansas is at 67 percent and 60 percent.

The biggest question mark at this point as we move into the hottest and driest part of the summer is if the subsoil reserves will be adequate.

Crop appearance

What is interesting after being in different states is that our corn here sped development by forming only 16 to 17 leaves on average and is about 18 inches shorter than normal. Near Peoria the corn is all about 2 feet taller than normal and has the normal leaf count. Thus the leaf area index varies, but is still within the normal range.

In driving from Illinois on U.S. highway 20, one could see numerous fields were showing a slightly yellowish color. Will it be just a slight aberration or a trend that continues?

Is it a lack of nitrogen or a change in plant health and does it indicate root disease problems?

It appears to be genetic family related. So will it lead to greater susceptibility to other fungal and bacterial problems?

Root lodging

This is the time for rootworm feeding problems which is illustrated by seeing corn plants tip after the ground gets soaked and the plants not decently anchored. In those fields you can still find the larvae feeding on the roots and adult beetles feeding on leaf tissue.

Anyone who is on an adult beetle program has to be vigilant and scouting for the females that will be near the egg-laying stage. In light of the fact that several of the CRW events are no longer effective it is advisable to keep the egg-laying population low so the overall pressure against any event is minimized.

Nature and the adaptiveness of insects will always win in the long term, but the longevity of the Herculex event could be enhanced by keeping beetle numbers low.

The total number of brace roots is also tied to planting depth. Over the last decade we have seen corn growers increase their seeding depth as it has led to better anchored plants and improved ability to access moisture and fertilizer.

The storms over the last few weeks have also caused problems with greensnap. It varies as to whether it snapped below or above the ear.

Varietal difference related to silica content can often be seen among varietal families, especially among corn plant just prior to the tasselling stage.

Does this mean that applications of silica containing foliar fertilizers could be utilized as a prevention mechanism?

That is a possibility and why several different groups are playing around with silica fertilizers for this purpose and as a means of boosting disease resistance. Dr Larry Datnoff, now of LSU, who was one of the editors of the APS book titled, “Mineral Nutrition and Plant Disease,” focused on silica nutrition.

Another fertilizer company from Vienna and one from Brazil are doing the same with great results. Does silica’s ability to act as a conductor come into play? There are good questions being asked.

Aerial spraying

Corn producers and scouts that are looking at corn plants for disease symptomology are seeing much lighter disease infestation levels compared to last year. Fewer hours of leaf wetness can be credited with slowing disease infections.

As the weather turns wetter and warmer it will like an incubation chamber in the fields. Stay alert over the next few weeks and continue to monitor your fields.

Early-season mineral deficiencies work to lower the plants’ immune response to disease infection, especially in those fields where the streaking was noticeable.

The planes have been busy the last two weeks so there are many acres of fungicides being applied. Anyone who is spending the money on fungal products should verify they are battling a fungus and not bacteria. Typically both are present.

In scouting fields the last few days I am seeing the brown slime creeping up the plant and begin to cause stalk bruising. This has to be stopped ASAP as it has ended up killing the plants in August the last seven years.

In examining plants that were sprayed with BioEmpruv at the V7 stage and pre-tassel two or three weeks ago the stalks are in extremely good health and appearance.

The cooler weather during pollination had to be beneficial to pollination and kernel set looks good.

One thing noticeable is the high percentage of plants where a second ear and a small stub ear is also protruding from the husks.

Will kernels form on those ears and produce any yield?

Soybean growth

The warmer weather on well-drained soils seems to have caused a mismatch with soybean growth. I was in fields in central Iowa on Monday that looked tremendous with lots of branching and high flower and small pod counts.

Only two more trifoliates were due still left to develop. Thus the plants were technically only at R2 rather than a full R3.

The 15-inch rows showed lots of Septoria, while the 30-inch rows had very low levels.

With the rows closing it is time for a strobe application.

Aphid populations remain low in these fields and all of Iowa, while fields near wooded areas carry higher populations of bean leaf beetles that are now feeding on the leaves and can transmit pod mottle virus (17 percent yield loss).

In light of budget restrictions, what is the proper course of action and what will produce the highest ROI?

Isn’t farming easy?

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

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