Late-season issues are showing up on yield monitors as harvest gets underway. Two common things we are seeing are stalk rots and ear rots.
As growers prepare for harvest, it’s a great time to gather observations about the crop. The combine cab is similar to a chair in the doctor’s office in that most growers can make observations about symptoms of ailments they are seeing when they are at a different angle above the crop. The real question that growers can and should be considering is “what is the deeper meaning of these symptoms?”
It is hard work to grow a corn crop, managing all the variables and inputs that can impact a crop as best you can in order to maximize production on every acre. Given all the work and effort spent in growing this crop, it only makes sense to spend some time making sure the crop gets into the bin. One thing that growers have control over at this time is the ability to fine-tune the combine in order to minimize harvest loss.
The words “final exam” are likely scary for many, but for corn growers the pre-harvest period is the perfect time to grade themselves on this year’s efforts. Take this opportunity to walk your fields and gain insight on the past year while formulating any plans to correct preventable losses.
Go to various spots in the field and count the number of fully developed ears. Given your planting population, have you achieved 90% effective ear count in that field? If not, this is the time to find out why.
As the growing season winds down, it is a great time to assess what practices have proven profitable and which ones need refinement for the future. One method that many growers are adopting is tissue testing to discover whether or not their fertility programs resulted in “hidden hunger” issues that were not necessarily manifested via visual deficiency symptoms. The tissue tests are utilized in conjunction with soil tests to see if ample soil fertility has actually reached the plant.
Many parts of the country have experienced excellent growing conditions that include warm temperatures and near optimum moisture, leading to hopeful expectations for a strong harvest. While we tend to focus on what we can see above ground, what goes on below the surface can be just as impactful. Those same warm temperatures, good moisture and excellent aeration of the soil can cause strong mineralization of soil organic matter, leading to the release of nutrients for the crop.
Many growers are preparing to harvest a large crop this fall, having been blessed with ample rainfall and excellent growing conditions. A side effect of a large grain harvest in many cases is that big yields often come with big plants and large amounts of residue. Managing large amounts of residue can present challenges not only in the fall but next spring when planters begin to roll. As a result, residue can be seen as a curse, but growers also understand the value contained in those plants and are trying to take advantage of their benefits.
As soybeans approach the critical pod-filling and yield-determination stages, many areas of the U.S. are experiencing increased insect feeding in soybeans. Two pests that are currently dominating this year’s soybean crop are Japanese beetles and two-spotted spider mites.
Although much of the attention for tissue testing is focused on corn, soybeans can also benefit from proactive tissue testing. Soil tests are excellent measures for primary and secondary nutrients and are still the best way to understand fertility and make decisions about soil-applied nutrients.
As growers scout their fields for potential disease, some are also noticing spots showing surprising nutrient deficiencies. One common deficiency is potassium, particularly in areas receiving limited rainfall. Many growers are puzzled to find potassium deficiencies when their soil samples test high for K. However, high soil potassium levels and fields showing potassium deficiencies are not mutually exclusive occurrences.