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Despite Hail, Pests, and Weeds, Iowa’s Corn and Soybeans ‘Look Really Good’

There aren’t many farmers who claim to “love all things related to weeds.” Luckily for farmers in Iowa, there’s a weed-loving Extension agent at the ready to help identify and tackle tough weeds. Meaghan Anderson has served as a field agronomist in east-central Iowa for the past two years. Last year, her enthusiasm and dedication helped farmers and landowners detect and manage Palmer amaranth infestations in pollinator plots and CRP plantings. (Read: How Meaghan Anderson Helped Iowa's Farmers Deal With Palmer Amaranth.)

This year, Anderson is back in the fields, keeping an eye out for Palmer amaranth and other pests as well as evaluating hail damage. Here’s what she’s seeing in the corn and soybean fields of eastern Iowa.

Palmar amaranth was spotted in fields in Linn County as well as Muscatine County. “We’re just approaching the best time to identify Palmer amaranth, so I’ve only seen a few locations with it so far this year,” says Anderson. “I suspect the hot, drier weather we’ve had has been good for its development, so more identifications will happen this summer.”

Marestail also looks like it could be an issue this season, comments Anderson. “Farmers have reported having trouble managing marestail, so I’ll be monitoring populations,” she says. “I think some farmers may need to consider a fall herbicide application if the populations in their fields germinate in the fall.”

The photo below (taken in Dallas County) shows the importance of preherbicide for weed management.

In addition to weeds, hail has been another issue for growers in Anderson’s region. “Hail damage was spread over several counties, but the most significantly damaged area was mostly small and spotty in Linn County,” she says.

Overall, Anderson says the corn crop is off to a good start for 2017. “I thought corn seemed more uneven early and also had some armyworm issues, but most looks really nice now,” she says. “I don’t think anyone would object to some more rain as long as it doesn’t bring hail with it.” The counties she covers are 1¼ inches below the climatology rain average for June.

In Washington County, Anderson is also noticing a fair amount of urea burn from sidedress applications.  

For soybeans, Anderson says some suffered from stand loss and damage from HG 14 herbicides used preemergence, pest feeding (armyworms and slugs), and crusting. “Most problems have been resolved at this point,” she says. “Corn and soybeans look really good after what seemed like a long planting season.”

According to the latest data from the USDA, 79% of Iowa’s corn crop is in good to excellent condition, on track with last year’s condition and up from the five-year average of 72%. Soybeans are trailing last year slightly with 74% in good to excellent condition compared with 77%, but still pacing ahead of the five-year average of 69%.

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