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By Staff | Aug 19, 2016

It’s now mid-August and a lot of things will be happening shortly. More and more of the local field days will be held by seed dealers as they hope to show off their top-performing hybrids and varieties, hoping to interest current and future customers.

Then the Farm Progress Show is scheduled for next week east of Boone. The crowds are typically quite large if the good weather holds. And unless the rain comes down in buckets the paved roads help people walking around on the show grounds.

Currently some of the permanent buildings are getting updated or enlarged, tents are being erected and many of the displays are getting set up.

As to field activity, except for the growers who have their own narrow-tired Hagie or Nitro or hire an aerial pilot, making additional field trips to apply fertilizer or fungicide are now done.

This does not mean that lots of things, good and bad, are occurring in fields. Kernels and pods still have to fill. Diseases will subside or advance. And there are several recognized field tours that will be taken and the findings released to the public.

And to a few peoples’ surprise walking into a pollen-covered corn field in hot weather is the most pleasant place to wander around.

So with most of the normal field practices completed the casual observers may believe we can all go on vacation.


Instead all grain farmers will be fully involved with making the final repairs and preparations on combines, heads and platforms, auger, wagons, bearings, Stir-Ators and tillage equipment for the next race, which will be the harvest and fall tillage season.

Grain fill, scouting

Perhaps the biggest unknown about this year’s corn crop and final yield for each field is – did the ears fully fill and retain kernels? or. did 2- to 3-inches of kernels abort for one or more of several reasons?

Pollination is nearly always successful.

However if conditions are too hot, too cool, too cloudy, too wet or too dry, nutrients are short, too much leaf tissue was lost to hail or disease the tip kernels will have their contents reabsorbed and be so called aborted.

If the nutrient levels are maintained at high levels, especially zinc, molybdenum, nitrogen, phosphorus and calcium, plant health is high and a high percentage of the leaf tissue remains green and healthy, sunlight levels are high, temperatures are in the moderate range, the kernels keep plumping up and may actually reach the black-layering stage without denting in.

I have seen ears already where the fields were planted in the middle part of the season and the leaves were rolled tight for about three weeks where there are now problems with excess tip kernel abortion.

On the other extreme I was in a number of fields planted around April 8-10 where fertility levels were high, the ground had been vertically ripped to increase root growth and O2 levels, foliar zinc and molybdenum were applied, and BioEmpruv kept the leaves 99.5 percent clean of all diseases and the ears are 16 to 20-by-42 to 52.

Assuming pops of 32,000 to 34,000 and deep brick-shaped kernels those yields will be very good.

If you are brave enough and have not done so yet, scout a few of your fields and hope your planting dates and field specifics were favorable for plant growth and ear development.

Bean pods

Soybean fields and crop is another story in that the majority of the pod fill still has to occur. Most plants still have lots of flowers blooming and small pods formed that could fill if temps, moisture levels and sunlight conditions are favorable.

Included in these parameters are healthy plants where Septoria and SDS fungi are under control.

As mentioned previously, SDS is a disease needing the right moisture and soil conditions to happen in the presence of Fusarium vulgiforma.

This fungus increases in number when the beneficial Pseudomonas has been killed off.

Smart people being stupid

The national horticulture society just had its annual conference in a southerly location.

Among the attendees are lots of advisors and specialists who deal with crops such as citrus that is at risk of disappearing due to extreme problems with bacterial diseases.

At the center of the problem is overuse of pesticides known to chelate minerals needed to maintain plant health.

I sat through several presentations where orange and grapefruit groves which have not borne finished fruit for several years were placed under an extreme nutritional program and had become productive again.

Many of the attendees refused to accept the obvious conclusion that good nutrition was important. And the University of Florida is focused on garnering tech fees on having the asparagus gene inserted into citrus they are ignoring the obvious.


With the return to wetter and cooler weather there are now pockets of white mold appearing in parts of the Midwest.

The fields most at risk are those around valleys, along waterways and trees where cold air drains and the humidity levels are high.

Isolate spots of dead plants covering on their lower portions with the white fuzz are dead giveaways to the problems.

One other disease I am seeing at high levels is frogeye spot.

It is another Cercospora fungal disease that loves wet leaves. Having it appear after a strobe application may signal its eventual development into a strobe resistant form.


This big show is next week in the Ames and Boone areas. I will be there part of the time in the ABM booth in the varied industries tent, and then helping to host our BBQ on Tuesday night. I may see you there.

Best of luck in your final prep work.

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

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