In another week we will be into the first part of July and the celebration of this country’s founding. In a season with a very long planting and replanting, the crp advane is at a very slow pace. That changed last week as the hot weather pushed the corn into its rapid vegetative growth phase and in many fields of corn came close to closing the row. By the end of this next week that will have actually happened in a high percentage of the fields in the Midwest. We needed that to happen to a crop that is already weeks behind last year’s pace.
The rain fronts that marched across our states last week were scattered and rainfall accumulations varied widely. Certain spots received over an inch while others received only traces. Now that the daily moisture consumption is over .15/day, and the rains quit in late May, regular rainfall during the normally wet month of June is important to not depleting the moisture profile. There has been corn rolling it’s leaves in areas where compaction was not a problem. We had the wettest April thru May period on record as well as the driest 15 first days of June on record this season. How is that for being erratic?
A few noted climatologists and weather forecasters were predicting a cool down beginning around June 17th. We went to a musical event on Sunday evening and there was definitely a chill in the air that was not present last week. Might this end up being an accurate forecast? In a perhaps related matter one of the larger volcanoes in Russia (Bezymianny) erupted on the 15th and pumped tons of ash over six miles high into the atmosphere. Our USGS service also noted a major earthquake swarm centered near Yellowstone Park in Montana. If there is a connection it validates Simon Atkins belief that weather and seismic activity is related to magma flow underneath the earth’s crust reacting to the pull from celestial bodies such as large planets. Having the temps more mild would make the season easier to tolerate.
The focus on the crops
The main focus for most crop raisers last week was to get their post-emerge broadleaf corn herbicides applied while they could still get through the fields with a tractor pulled rig. Most of the waterhemp were still less than six inches in height and were controllable. It was also time to begin the same task on soybeans although in later planted fields the trend was to wait another week and let another percentage of the weeds emerge.
The number of hard to control weeds in both crops seems to be increasing. Kochia and marestail are two that come to mind as ones where growers lack effective products. In another two weeks we will likely be hearing stories about waterhemp which will have resisted efforts to remove them from their fields. That has growers listening to the advice passed on through ag publications where nozzling specifics and drift issues were discussed.
Just as in fungicide applications where only the carboximide products have much systemic activity and twin directed nozzles are recommended, the best weed control using PPOs hinges on good plant coverage and sufficient gallonage. The same applies to Liberty herbicide. Thus spraying with twin nozzles comes as close at guaranteeing coverage on both the front and back sides of each plant.
One of the big stories of last season was the haphazard release of the Dicamba tolerant soybeans and the labeling of the companion herbicides. What was feared most was the drift potential of this family as either particle or vapor drift. The news that major problems occurred in states such as Missoury, Arkansas and other Delta states and even a few farmers were killed over the issue garnered attention. This lead to a split in grower attitudes and whether they wanted to charge into the use of this tandem mix of products.
In Arkansas only temporary licensing was granted based on whether drift complaints remained at minimal number or if they would come flooding in. Well as of last week the reports told that the Depts. of Ag in several states were getting quite a few complaint calls and those permits may be rescinded. We can only wait to see what the outcome might be on this issue. Has any formulating company truly been able to tame this high vapor pressure chemical? If the German chemists are having problems, that is likely a harbinger of future problems.
As discussed in the ‘Chat N Chew Cafe’ Purdue University website they included a good discussion about air inversions, and how and when they happen. That phenomenon occurs just before sundown as the air cools and either goes about mixing with warm air, or does not mix with warm air. This leads to sprayed particles remaining suspended until the light breezes that occur just after sunrise carry those particles up to and over a mile in distance. In other words the chances of these inversions are very common and out of human control. Being observant of separation requirements, wind speeds, nozzle types and pressures are all necessary and important, but there are still outside events that can lead to problems. So can Dicamba beans coexist with all other crops? We will know more by this fall.
The fireflies appeared in large numbers last week. Their appearance typically marks the half way mark of CRW eggs hatching and the small larvae feeding on corn roots. Though it can be a ‘needle in haystack’ search as it takes time and lots of digging to verify a problem field early enough to take action. Curative steps or products are very limited as Counter was the lone systemic insecticide. A few farmers have smart boxes equipped to apply that product post emerge, but lack of sufficient rain can limit its effectiveness. One issue with it is that it limits the use of any HPPD herbicide due to possible phytotoxic reactions by the corn plants. We have seen Safe Strike, a natural Neem Oil and Carange Oil liquid product work quite well in post-emerge applications.
The issue of rootless corn was also in the news and was seen occurring in certain fields. How and dry soil surfaces during the brace root initiations phase which work to limit root formation are typically to blame. Twenty years ago the recommendation was to throw more soil while row crop cultivating, but that trip is a rarity these days. One way that is more used to avoid the problem is planting the seed at 2 to 2.25″ deep rather than shallower. This typically offers more chance to the plants to form extra brace roots.
I have had the chance to see how those pollinator plots and acres are growing in their second season. The broadleaf flowering native plants survived the winter and are poised to begin flowering. The list of plants that can be seen is numerous and should serve their purpose. It is too bad that no one at the Govt Agency had the common sense to make sure any seed being shipped into the state was verified as inspected and clean of Palmer Amaranth seed.
Soil health consulting
One new area of expertise that growers will be requesting more in the future is that of soil health consulting. Since it has been established that the key to producing high yields on a sustainable basis while protecting and improving the soil is good soil health, as tested for and verified by Haney and/or PLFA testing, more consultants will be needed to provide advice on what products to use or avoid in producing crops plus the procedures and cost to repair soil health. This can also be termed regenerative agriculture. This spring we have gotten acquainted with several young Ag practitioners who are adept as this newer field and are able to provide guidance. These fellows include some in southeast and southwest Iowa, central and southeast Missouri and eastern Kansas. In terms of being able to interpolate soil biology with soil fertility and crop husbandry and give direction, they are all excellent. In their work they can prescribe how often and how much manure from different sources, applications of a brewed biological mix or switch to different mineral sources or pesticides are important steps to follow.
In previous seasons the main bacterial corn disease began to appear as caramel colored lesions on the stalks or sloughing V3 and V4 leaves. This occurred when the plants were at the V8 to V10 growth stage, which will be happening this week or next. If you wish to make your IDs with a high degree of accuracy you will need to order your CMN/CMM immunoassay strip tests from Ag Diagnostics in Elkhart, Indiana this week.
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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