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Crop watch

By Staff | Jun 7, 2019

P week has arrived. Just like there was D-Day for the invasion at Normandy, the final decisions on planting or not planting over the northern half of the state will happen.This is the week where corn growers in Iowa find out if they will finish planting their corn acres in the northern third of Iowa and in a number of states to the north of that line.

The grain market may make a long run up in price, but if the fields are still holding ponded water or if the ground is pure muck, what they want and what nature will allow will be apparent if and when the rain showers now over nine western states from Colorado and Wyoming west move into the region again during the Tuesday through Friday time period There will be operators with ground that would be nearly fit that they could mud things in and all the while wondering if they will be causing compaction that could cost them for years.

The growers in the southern half of the state and northern Missouri may bet on a continued higher corn markets and plant corn through June 15th, hoping for a late fall. If they have their fertilizer applied already on and have higher cash rents, it may be worth a shot.

It became apparent on our Friday afternoon drive down to St Louis that the estimated percent planted is too high on the flat ground in southern Iowa and most of Missouri as most of the emerged seedlings have rotted off and will or could be torn up and replanted if time allows. In many fields the only good plants are over the tile lines. Surprisingly along Hwy 61 if the Mississippi were to rise another one to two feet the east set of lanes would be under water in spots.

Insurance any or everyone?

By now most operators have met once or twice with their crop insurance specialist to see how well or poorly their proven yields and coverage amount might pay them to take the prevent planting option. Most of us thought it could never develop as it has, but here we are with the end of the first week in June approaching and many fields still saturated enough that only the best drained fields may be ready to plant.

There are still growers who remain fiercely independent and don’t carry insurance and those who need to raise grain for their livestock operation, recognizing they need the grain and will grab what early maturity varieties they can locate and continue to make whatever progress is possible. Farmers younger than 46 have never seen such conditions. Luckily it has not been common.

However it has been an annual occurrence to hope for a cropping disaster in other countries or other states, hoping for an increase in prices. The expected drop in production will help to draw down the burdensome oversupply of grain that have become common with the good growing seasons since 2013. The demand by processing, converting to ethanol, feeding or export rose but not enough.

In our part of the world, west of Highway 14 west to the Nebraska border, and from Highway 3 or 18 down to I-80 within Iowa, then in most of Nebraska, the percentage of corn acres planted is higher than in most of the northern cornbelt. Even within that area there are still many fields that lack sufficient drainage tile and appear likely to be idled this season.

I worked for years with a person who grew up on a smaller northern Minnesota farm where they raised potatoes. I asked him how long the potatoes stored and he said ten months. By that time they had either been cleaned and marketed, in cold storage ready for sale at the grocery chains’ warehouse or had rotted. There was no carryover into the new harvest season. He said they always started out with new high prices in the fall since there was no remaining old supply. He said it was great for prices.

Late planting recommendations for corn

For the late planted, fuller maturity corn acres there are several recommendations that could be followed to speed up the plant development.

These would be:

1. Have a good level of biological activity in the soil to release nutrients as early as needed.

2. Have high levels or available P in the soil or use a foliar program to keep a .42 percent or higher level in your tissue test.

3. Apply the CaSi to form the added thickness to the leaves to capture energy from the sun in visible and non-visible frequencies.

4. Follow any mineral chelating herbicide that causes yellow flash with a micronutrient application so the plants don’t stall out for a week or two.

5. Plot research is being done on this in 2019 to verify this in the Midwest but a good recommendation might be to apply DiKap to the plants foliarly to speed up the ‘energy transfer cycling’. UC at Davis work documented this happens in other crops with this product.

Goss’s Wilt already

We walked into a large grocery chain story in St. Louis and happened to see the display of the new sweetcorn grown in a southerly location. Low and behold the shanks had the very characteristic, round, caramel colored lesions on them. An esteemed colleague out in Idaho was having a discussion with their USDA sweetcorn seed field inspectors about this disease being all over in their fields. They said it was not there, he said it was. We tested samples with the immunoassy strips and concurred with his opinion. It looks like he was correct.


About a third of the expected soybeans have been planted already. The earliest of these are now in the unifoliate stage. When checking these early planted emerged fields last Friday it was easy to see bean leaf beetles feeding on the leaves. This is expected in a normal year as the first beetles have an excellent sense of smell and find the first emerged fields. Weren’t these supposed to have all frozen during the bitterly cold winter.

The remaining two thirds of the bean crop will be planted two to four weeks later than planned. In cases farmers who recognized that early planted beans yield more, partly due to forming more podded nodes on each stem, got their beans in early but still have a substantial percentage of their corn left to plant.

Those who still have beans left to plant will have to do what is recommended to help soybean plants compensate for the delayed planting date. That means narrowing row width, if possible and increasing the seeding rates. Anything to add branching and podded node counts should help yields.

Researching and using a sound foliar fertilizer program during the flowering and pod formation stage can also help, as could a late season Ca/S/K mix during late pod fill to increase seed size. Again follow any application of a chelating herbicide with a foliar micronutrient application to help the plants recover quicker from the stall out or yellow flash stage. This management step is followed religiously south American growers.


Most May hay cutting was delayed by continued cloudy and wet weather. Most of it has continued to grow and letting it stand in the field could be counter-productive to hay quality and maximizing cutting per season. Then typically a strong fertilizer program of P, K, S and micros after the first cutting will supply the minerals needed to maintain high yields.

With high hay prices into the foreseeable future we may see oats planted as a cover crop mixed with the alfalfa seed to generate the hay crops in 2020. There are people who will lime their soil and apply the needed micronutrients in a manner of preparing to take alfalfa off for two years. Then they will apply for OMRI certification on the field before planting organic corn in the 2021 season.

It may be time to squeeze those lemons into lemonade.

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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