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2nd-half agronomics

Gil Gullickson 07/06/2012 @ 9:47am Crops Technology Editor for Successful Farming magazine/Agriculture.com

Midsummer used to be the time when you thought the whole game was over for your corn and soybeans. Just plant, spray, and go away until harvest.

No more.

Instead, more maladies make this period the halftime in your fields. Whether you're in your shop, office, or walking your fields, you're trying to make sense of what lies ahead. Maladies like soybean aphids and white mold may plague your soybeans later this year. Goss's wilt is becoming more of a threat to your corn. And you now have to eye your rootworm-traited corn for signs of failure.

Just like a coach making halftime adjustments, Successful Farming magazine offers 12 pep talk points to consider as you head into your crop's second half. Addressing these points can aid you through the rest of 2012 and beyond.

If you haven't been out in your fields for a few weeks, get out there. If you can't, hire a scout or consultant to do it for you. Curbing problems now can make for more bountiful future harvests.

“Growers need to be following principles of integrated pest management and scouting for disease and insects to get out in front of them,” says Ty Vaughn, U.S. corn product management lead for Monsanto.

1. Make sure fungicides work

Scientists agree that fungicides have high odds of payoff under disease-inducing factors such as disease-susceptible varieties or residue-laden fields. Opinions are split between university and industry officials and plant pathologists whether yield hikes due to plant physiology benefits will occur.

If you do apply fungicides, check your fields later to make sure they worked. Strains of frogeye leaf spot that resist strobilurin fungicides were documented in Tennessee, Illinois, Kentucky, and Missouri in 2010 and 2011.

One step to forestall development of resistant strains of frogeye leaf spot is to plant soybean varieties that resist it. Mixing different modes of action when fungicide applications are made can also forestall resistance, says Nick Fassler, BASF technical market manager for fungicides.

Thus far, frogeye leaf spot is most prevalent in Southern soybean-growing regions like the Mississippi River Delta. But it's important to watch for expansion in more Northern soybean-growing regions, Fassler adds.

2. Fix n-deficient corn

The funeral parlor pallor of pale-green corn or striped corn that's short of nitrogen (N) is certainly a stomach sinker.

“Generally, we like to make a supplemental N trip before corn gets to the V6 stage. Anytime after that in Minnesota is unpredictable,” says Jeff Vetsch, soil scientist at the University of Minnesota of Minnesota (U of M) Southern Research and Outreach Center at Waseca. “If you can't incorporate it with a decent rain, you risk volatilization. But if you have lots of N-deficient corn, you may not have a choice.”

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