May is here already and with it seems to be warmer temperatures. Wow, what a turn around. Less than two weeks ago parts of northern Iowa and southern Minnesota were receiving as much as twelve inches of new snow, and that was on top of what was already on the ground.
South Dakota and much of Minnesota and points east were still having late winter and cold temps. And according to a friend from northwest Iowa who had visited relatives west of Minneapolis, there were 32 inches of ice on the lakes in the vicinity and they were still ice fishing a week ago on Saturday. While ice fishing can be fun it does not compete with being out in a boat in northern Minnestoa or Canada listening to the loons calling.
Everyone connect with farming were very apprehensive about the coming season, as winter never seemed to want to leave. Not turning a wheel until after the 20th of April was a rarity, as in recent years many of the aggressive growers in the central one third of Iowa, the belt running between Hwy 3 down to I-80, often have a high percentage of their corn acres in the ground by April 20th.
Then the thought and reality was that once it warmed up it might begin raining for a few weeks. That would have created loads of nervousness and frustration among all of the row crop farmers waiting to begin their spring field work. Now less than a week after many operators first ventured into their field with their field cultivators, followed quickly by their planters, have been in a mad rush to get the corn seeds into the ground before their optimum planting window had closed.
A common remark so far has been that more operators were very surprised at how quickly their fields dried. There had been a few ponds in the field west of Ft. Dodge, as well as to the north where some of the snow melt was still standing in the low spots, as of the weekend most fields seemed to be dry enough to work.
When looking at the NWS moisture maps of the entire country one evident observation is that very dry conditions are occurring west in the Dakotas and down through Texas.
Most of the western Midwest states have stayed dry for most of April. For a month known for its frequent April showers, those have been almost non-existent. What are the chances that those abnormally dry conditions migrate east to influence us here in Iowa?
While we could use a good .5 to 1.0 inch rain to melt a few of the clods down and help a few shallow planted corn seeds germinate and emerge, having dry conditions through May and the first half of June would be what most growers would order as they could complete bean planting, get their planned fertilizer applied, and keep any weed problems under control.
The one surprise so far has been the amount of strong winds we have had most days. Normally the strong winds in spring are accompanied by moderate to strong rains. This year the major fronts marching through the state have not been delivering moisture.
With priority on planting, did any tasks get left out?
With the break in the weather the agenda was to get the corn planted as quickly as possible. How many growers skipped an in-furrow application of a mineral of biological product they had planned on using of a few or most acres? Likely more than one person fits that category? What can be done now if you think that one item could help you achieve yields that you desire and after you get your beans planted would have the time and machinery to apply it. Find out if foliar applications or a Y-drop application of the targeted product has been successfully applied by others. Foliar applications can work but certain surfactants like WakeUp help decrease surface tension and particle size so penetration thru the cuticle is more complete. Check to see if the recommendations include adjusting pH of your mix to below internal leaf pH.
With fertilizers that typically applies. One of the latest recommendations, coming from a Korean researcher, includes making sure the EC, or electrical conductivity as measured by an EC meter, is higher than the leaf and soil EC. High electrical potential flows to a region with low potential.
If the missed product is a biological there is a good chance that a Y-drop application could work. As the brace roots begin to form, those roots and root tips are covered in a gelatinous film called mucigel. This gel is high in sugars and serves the purpose of promoting microbial activity in the area of high cell division. The microbes get free food and in return release the organic acids that solubilized minerals the dividing cells need.
With the fast soil warm up and continued cool nights there has been a low level of weed emergence. While that level has been low will it be zero? On flat ground it would not take long to see if there are small weeds that have barely emerged to see if a burndown is still needed to complement your residual product. If there is roll to the fields be sure to look at the south facing slopes to see if the warmer temps so far in April or early May were enough to trigger weed seed germination and emergence.
This year has been different so spending a little time to perform this task could pay off.
Once the corn planting is complete operators will jump right to planting their bean acres. With multiple systemic seed fungicides those emerged seedlings are typically able to ward off the seedling fungi. Included are those in the Oomycete family such as Pythium, Phytophthora, Rhizoctonia and Fusarium. While having the seed treated reduces the chance of seeing root diseases the threat of having one of those slime molds becoming a problem, the threat of seeing a high level of SDS tracks closely with early planting and having moderate to high levels of SCN.
One new product we hope to try in a few plots and fields is called Nemosan. It’s from a Georgia company called O2YS. It is a chitosan material that can be seed or foliar applied. There is lots of research work with published papers behind the product. It is available in quantity for 2018. There is also one from Lido Chem called Varnimo, which is based on a bacteria hat dissolves chitin, which is the hard shell on a beetle or a juvenile nematode. It is typically applied in furrow and was labeled late last fall.
White mold in 2018
Work done in both Wisconsin and a few other states has provided more information on what constitutes good growing conditions for a white mold problem. One often mentioned is rainfall or moist conditions while the soybean plants are flowering. A factoid that came from Gus Lorenz, a Univ. of Arkansas entomologist who attended a meeting I was at in St Louis a few years ago, was a soil temp of less than 74 degrees was crucial for the fungus to be active. With our best bean yields ever in 2016, which was a very wet year, we were lucky in that the 90 degree weather in June got the soil temps above 90 degrees.
The disease flourishes in high humidity, still air locations where there is dead air around or along low lying fields, water ways, or around trees. The best looking, thick canopied, tall beans can be the most susceptible. Bean growers need to read those conditions for each field and proactively if they occur and previous WM problems occurred in the fields. A great pictorial publication from ISU on WM is available as CPN1005.
The management steps that can be implemented include using foliar sprays to keep soybean plants in target areas shorter to facilitate more air exchange within the canopy. Sugar and high grade phosphate like MPK (mono potassium phosphate) work.
A product called Seed Set, which contains both P and sugar), fits the bill also. On the chemical side Stratego Yield containing Prothioconazole, or Trivapro are labeled. The former and may require a .5 rate near July1 and a full rate at R3 while the later should perform well with a July 1 application.
So now with corn planting fully underway and expected completion with another good week of weather, the planting task should be over with. Now how do you plan to manage the crop to achieve optimum yields? Will you be making sidedress or foliar applications of nutrients or biologicals to meet nutrient demand or increase RUE (radiation use efficiency) or eliminate hear or moisture stress? Newer products should be able to perform those tasks. Do you have a tissue testing program thought out with plans on which lab to submit to? Those are all tasks that high yield achievers are doing to coax those last bushels from their fields.
Good luck with your planting tasks left to be completed.
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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