The 2017 planting season for the upper Midwest will enter its eighth week before long. After the monsoons across much of the region and the abnormally cool conditions, no one really knows what to expect for the state of both major crops, acres of each and replant acres. The first sun seen in about a week showed up late on Sunday and it shone on many waterholes in fields that will take a number of days before any wheeled traffic will be possible. I was hoping to get a figure on the planting progress by state, but these were unavailable as of Sunday night.
I was not able to get any official announcement but word was circulating that up to five million acres of corn in Illinois may need to be replanted. One rep from a large seed company did verify they expect this seasons replanted acres to be their largest ever. I know the same big rain event that nailed their midsection moved through Illinois and Missouri first, so they will have quite a few acres in the same category. In Iowa what has emerged looks decent so far with maybe a minor percentage may be a bit short on population. After we see the weather predictions for the next one to two weeks we will have a better handle on when the planters can start rolling to finish up corn planting and get the last half of the beans in.
Progress for this week?
Let’s see. If it takes four good drying days and Monday might have be the first good one, how many fields will be dry enough to start the planters by Friday? Will any no till acres be ready to go before then? At this time in 2016 most of the crop had been planted for about five weeks and was on its way to being nearly knee high by the 4th of June.
The good part about this is the commodity forecasters are voicing the opinion that any acreage tally of less than 90 million corn acres will be bullish for corn prices as demand within the U.S destinations continues to be very good and exports have remained high. On the international scene the big hiccup was the one occurring when the Brazilian corruption scandal seemingly got larger, which dropped the value of their currency, making their beans cheaper to the world’s customers.
The optimum window in which to plant corn and expect high yields is assumed to be open until about May 10. So what is left to be planted yet or replanted is going to have to hustle to tassel by August 1. That will push their grain filling period into a potentially drier part of the summer when moisture reserves tend to be more depleted. The plants will grow taller, possible as much as 18-inches of added growth, and ear placement will be higher. If you are already planting 34 to 36K kernels keep using the same setting on your planter. Increasing it could increase stalk and root problems.
The very saturated conditions are typically more conducive to the different slime mold fungi, such as Pythium, Fusarium and Rhizoctonia. So the seed applied fungicides will be called upon to help minimize the infections from the pathogens. The early infections may not produce any above ground symptoms but could show up as diseased crowns and roots later in the season.
What I am most apprehensive about will be the bacterial diseases that have been getting worse and have been shutting the grain fill down around the 18 to 25 of August. If the same thing occurs this year and the corn does not tassel until the first week in August, it does not allow many days of grain fill to occur. It is for this reason that doing everything possible to keep the corn green and filling through all of August and September will be crucial to meeting yield expectations. Any post emerge product shown to lessen bacterial problems could be very valuable to use.
The current corn stands
By the grace of God and maybe being cautious about expected cooler soils in late April the timing of when much of our corn got planted and the stands look good in most fields. Even without much sun and not many GDUs in the last week the corn continue to grow and develop. A lot of it is getting to the V2 growth stage. It is yellowed, but this issue should fade as the plants get taller and the roots begin to intercept applied nitrogen.
Will the growing season stay cooler as two major climatologists have been predicting? If this is the case foliar phosphorus could be crucial in that energy is transported in the plant via charged phosphorus. Either way optimum kernels row numbers are realized by having phosphsours tissue levels at .42 ppm as discovered in Ohio State Research.
If we receive more rain this week it could have growers with poor stands do more calculating to compare perfect stands when planted now with stands in the 20 to 24K range planted a month ago. So much is an unknown due to weather and rainfall amounts.
The extension crops people in Illinois are discussing the topic of lost or leached nitrogen. When soil temps are above 50 degrees, which they were and had actually been above 60 degrees, ammonia N converts to nitrate N which will leach or be lost into the air. Thus a month or so later this season the discussion among corn growers may be dealing with the topic of sidedressing or topdressing 32 or 46 percent nitrogen to combat any amounts of N that were leached or denitrified. It is just a repeat of early season ponding rains or where the soil no longer allowed rain to soak in as it is supposed to. Loss of soil organic matter or having base saturation levels of magnesium above 20 percent can help increase the problem.
Soybean planting advice
As we march towards the end of May the need to increase planting populations is a reality. We will be beyond May 25 as things look now, so increasing seed rate by 20 to 25 percent will be recommended. Getting as many side branches as possible will increase the chances of getting top yields. In Kip’s world foliar applications of hormones facilitated that process. Early applications of Cobra or other cultural steps can cause the production of ethylene which cancels out the stem elongation due to high auxin levels. Narrowing rows widths can serve the same purpose of growing more podded nodes.
ReDox Chemical Company
After working with a Minnesota sugar beet grower who in 2016 sprayed his beets with silica based foliar and saw good results I contacted the company out in Pocatello, Idaho. John Kelly was the agronomist I talked with and we had a good visit over the phone. I was interested in finding out what he was doing and he the same. He flew into Iowa last week and six of us met with him for a long discussion.
Part of the reason for meeting with him was from a point that was made by a former colleague, a DVM/agronomist who studied under a scientist who had been the mathematician in Einstein’s Manhattan Project. In their work the topic was how the use of silicon sprayed would facilitate the plants receiving more energy from different sources in the universe than just the son. Who was I to see that it would not work? So energy accumulation and futuristic plant disease control for when strobes/triazoles/carboximide no longer worked was what we wanted to hear more about. John did not disappoint. He went thru about four hours of field trials and experiments they had done and about crop growing industries they were selling into where they had 80 to 95 percent market penetration, not because of hard selling but because their products worked.
In this country there is work being done on the mineral by only one person. More are interested in it, but only one lady at LSU is doing research work. In Brazil they had a major conference on it last fall, because the products tend to be low cost and help control diseases while preserving quality during shipping. We intend to test about four or five of their products this year in our high yield work.
A lesson that we have learned through experience is that wet springs have a history of causing later season weed problem when soil applied products are leached or washed away with any soil movement. This has caused serious weed students to look at the water solubility ratings of their chosen products and recognize that adherence of their products to soil organic matter and soil clays are important properties and need to be studied. Growers need to recognize the issues that could arise later this summer for those reasons and be able to respond in an early and educated fashion if problems appear.
Such wet weather reinforces the idea that relying on making timely post emerge applications on any crop is risky. Residuals to supply the basic control products will continue to be important.
Here’s to getting breezy, sunny and warm weather the rest of the week across the Cornbelt.
Bob Streit is an independent crop consultant and columnist for Farm News. He can be reached at (515) 709-0143 or www.CentralIowaAg.com.
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