At the end of April now as we stare at the radar and thermometer in hopes of some warm, dry weather for a few fleeting hours of fieldwork … we hear of significant rains the last week of April and early May for the major corn producing states from Nebraska eastward between I-70 north to I-90 and 94 all the way to Pennsylvania!
I mentioned last week that the second aspect of the fertility regimen corn farmers are face with that I wanted to discuss before plant 2017 really commenced was starter fertility. There is no quicker way to get a room full of corn producers active in conversation than to bring up the topic of starter fertility in corn. It is a widely-accepted and used production practice in the northern corn belt as a tool to manage planting corn early, or in cool and wet soil conditions as so often happens here in the North.
As plant 2017 is nearing some parts of North Dakota, I am continuing to cover some pre-plant decisions that are being made. For at least the next two articles I want to discuss fertility. There is quite a lot to maintaining proper fertility for corn as the crop is a high user of many nutrients, so I will not be discussing all pertinent nutrients or aspects of the nutrients discussed. This week I want to focus on the nutrient we hear and talk most about in corn – Nitrogen (N).
What is the earliest and latest you have ever planted corn on your farm, or that producers that you work with have planted? I encourage you to think about this as plant 2017 nears. Planting dates in corn production are critical for reaching maximum yield and optimum harvest moisture of a corn crop. Given that corn is a heat and growing degree day driven crop, it makes sense that planting date can have such an impact on yield and moisture. I want to cover a few things relating to planting date as field season nears.
Choosing the correct corn hybrid(s) for your farm is the easiest way to gain (or lose) bushels, given you have already optimized most other management practices. In a North Dakota hybrid trial data set from NDSU, there was as much as 88 bushels per acre difference between the top and bottom yielding adapted hybrids at a location, and all hybrids entered were available for seed in that or the following year. If you do the quick math in your head you can quickly see how much choosing the right hybrid impacts profitability at the farm level. (more…)
There is cause for excitement when talking about corn today in North Dakota. We are experiencing what will likely be a state record yield by several bushels per acre, with generally great harvest conditions. In the week ending October 23, 2016, according to USDA crop progress data, we are 39% harvested with corn in North Dakota, behind last year’s pace by 17%. This is very nice progress, however, there are a few issues that have become prominent in the past week that I want to address, namely corn drydown and storage issues.
Black layer is upon or nearing our corn fields throughout North Dakota. Black layer is the physiological indicator at the tip of a corn kernel where the kernel was previously connected to the nutrient and moisture flow of the corn plant. Black layer forms when the hard starch layer has moved to the base of the kernel, and is when the maximum amount of dry weight has accumulated in the kernel.
A novel corn bacterial disease has come to minor prominence in much of the corn growing belt of the United States. This bacterial disease, for now called simply bacterial leaf streak, is not very well understood, as it is newly discovered, first in Nebraska. As of the most recent update the disease has been discovered in 9 states this year (Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas), and not in North Dakota. Our closest confirmed field, as communicated by an SDSU research to Dr. Andrew Friskop, our NDSU cereals plant pathologist, is approximately 90 miles SW of Brookings, SD. The closest Minnesota field in unknown at this time, but I will post an update if I find out.
We are at the time of our growing season for corn and soybeans where scouting insects is important. In corn, we are primarily worried about the corn rootworm species that are prevalent in corn fields that are under certain production parameters, chiefly continuous corn cropping. Dr. Janet Knodel, NDSU extension entomologist, published a concise article about what her team has found thus far this season here: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/cpr/entomology/corn-rootworms-emerging-08-18-16
This week’s crop update will be a mixture of physiology and finding information sources. The corn plant is fascinating, it truly is. Dr. Joe Lauer, corn agronomist at the University of Wisconsin Madison, provides some very nice updates on corn plant physiology, month by month, throughout the growing season. As he has approximately 30 years more experience than I, and has already published his update for August, I want to post that for you all here.