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Slideshow: Off to quick start
Soybeans are sprouting, winter wheat is showing its golden hue (or even harvested), and corn is knee-high by the 4th—of June, that is. Here’s a roundup of crop progress that Crops Technology Editor Gil Gullickson has observed across Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa in the past couple weeks.
These soybeans were just popping above the ground when we stopped by this field in late May by the Mississippi River near Hannibal, Missouri. Compared to previous years, soybean planting is far ahead of normal in Missouri. As of June 3, 88% of the state’s soybeans had been planted, compared to 53% from 2007 to 2011.
This winter wheat was changing color near Canton, Missouri, in late May. Harvest has started in many parts of Missouri, with 33% of winter wheat fields having been harvested by June 3.
In late May, we stopped by the Dan and Darren Shaw farm near Edgar, Nebraska, farm. Corn is king in this corner of southeastern Nebraska. Several ethanol plants in the area have boosted demand for corn in recent years.
Good planting weather enhanced timely planting in the Shaw’s area this year. However, weather hasn’t been perfect this year. So far, they have had fields hammered by three rounds of hail.
Even so, continuous corn still reigns supreme in the region. Prolific residue is one challenge when it comes to raising corn-on-corn. One way the Shaws deal with it is by raising corn in wider, 36-inch rows, compared to 30-inch or narrower rows.
Residue can quickly add up in a corn-on-corn field. However, it can decay over time. This shot shows the progress in residue decay (left to right) from 2009, 2010, and 2011 in one of Mike Schardt’s 2012 corn-on-corn fields near Deshler, Nebraska.
One way Schardt deals with the additional residue of corn-on-corn is by running a single disk fertilizer opener ahead of trash whippers on his planter. The opener slices the trash and gives the whippers a chance to clear the residue to the side.
The prolific residue of corn-on-corn can house disease-causing organisms, such as the bacteria that causes Goss’s wilt. Selecting disease-resistant hybrids is the major way Schardt guards against this bacterial disease.
Disease-resistant hybrids and use of fungicides are tools Schardt uses to battle fungal diseases like gray leaf spot, common rust, and anthracnose. “We know post-pollination application of fungicide pays,” says Schardt.
He also has been doing trials with early application of fungicides around the V6 corn growth stage. So far, results have been encouraging, with 5 to 6 bushel per acre yield bumps often occurring from these early applications.
Schardt also works irrigated soybeans into his rotation every few years. Irrigation removes drought stress that otherwise would severely limit soybean yields in this area of southeastern Nebraska. “If our irrigated beans don’t yield over 75 bushels (per acre) we consider it a failure,” he says.
Rotations still play a role for Jon Halbur, Coon Rapids, Iowa. He is planting a share of his acres to no-till corn-on-corn for 2012, but plans to stick with a corn-soybean rotation on most of his acres in the future. “No-till corn works well, but I still like a rotation,” he says.
No-tilling corn with soybeans has a number of benefits, such as breaking pest cycles. Residue also isn’t as prolific, although the previous year’s soybean residue is sufficient to curtail erosion. “No-till really cuts down on soil erosion,” says Halbur.
Take a tour around corn, wheat and soybean country and see how things are looking out there.