Monthly Archives: September 2018
Crop Update: In some ways it’s felt like a strange harvest season with how much of the area crop was harvested early due to storm damage and drought, but that’s also a blessing. It’s also been a blessing to have had surprisingly good test weights from some of the hail damaged corn and low mold damage reported thus far. There’s still a lot of harvest to go and I think stalk and ear rots are on the minds of us all.
I’ve been seeing more ‘less common’ ear rots this year and starting to receive questions on them. These include Nigrospora ear/cob rot, Cladosporium rot, and Trichoderma rot. These are caused by weaker fungi feeding on ears of plants that were stressed or killed prematurely. So hybrids that had problems with anthracnose top dieback, top leaf death, root rot issues, shortened husks with exposed ear tips, and hail/wind damage may have more problems with these diseases. Symptoms include when the cob feels rotted or falls apart when you break an ear in half. With Nigrospora, the kernels often have black spores on them and the spores can also be noticed on the cob pith as well. With Cladosporium and Trichoderma, the spores appear more green in color. None of the fungi causing these diseases have a mycotoxin associated with them, which is good. The diseases can create lighter test-weight ears and can create more chaff and dust during harvest due to the cobs falling apart. In storage, the biggest problems would be the fines, broken cobs, and extra chaff; keeping the grain below 15% moisture will stop fungal growth.
I’ve also had people asking for more specifics on conducting the pinch test to determine percent stalk rot in the field. Sometimes it’s easier to visualize this versus me keep writing about it. Thus, I created a very short video this week to hopefully help. One note is as you do this pinch test, the stalks may not completely crush, but a stalk with rot has a definite ‘give’ to it. You can view the video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7z75VN1c51Q.
For those who left hail-damaged soybean standing in fields with yields less than 5 bu/ac, some have asked about grazing those acres. For whole fields, we were recommending seeding a cereal into them (like rye at this point) just to offset the fat content of any remaining beans and provide some cover on the ground. That’s still a possibility for those interested in doing this. Some have also asked about grazing the soybean acres adjacent to seed corn residue without adding in a cover crop. That could be an option too and we don’t anticipate problems with that situation. When grazing seed corn or corn residue in any fields, it will be important to determine amount of ear loss on the ground prior to grazing. A way to do this is to measure off 100 feet and count the number of ears you find within that distance; do this 3 times throughout the field (for a total of 300 feet). Add the total number of ears found in 300 feet. Then, assuming each ear is about 0.5 bu, multiply the total number of ears by 0.5 to determine the average bushels on the ground in the field. Normal grazing management can be used if the total is 10 bu/ac or less on the ground. If more than that, different management needs to be considered and the following is a good resource for those considerations: https://go.unl.edu/8j4n.
For those asking about wheat varieties for Eastern Nebraska, the following resource may be of benefit to you at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2018/winter-wheat-varieties-eastern-nebraska-fit.
Also, Aaron Berger, Nebraska Extension Educator who conducts podcasts for the UNL Beef website, recently interviewed Chad Dane, a Clay County farmer. You can hear this podcast on “A Row Crop Farmer’s Perspective on Cover Crops and Cattle Grazing” at: http://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/unlbeefwatch/2018/Sep_2018_Chad_Dane.mp3.
It was great seeing harvest progressing this week and a challenge to stay ahead of harvest notes with on-farm research plots coming out! With the craziness of this week, I didn’t get a CropWatch article written on rapid drydown of corn and soybean. However, there’s a really good resource on this topic from Bob Nielsen at Purdue and you can find it here: https://www.agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/news/timeless/graindrying.html.
Purple Seed Stain: I meant to write about this last week as I was finding it in fields pre-harvest. So far I’ve seen or heard it to be mainly in mid-group 2 bean varieties. During early to late seed fill, you may have noticed some reddish/bronzing color on soybean leaves. This can be due to Cercospora Blight in soybean. The disease is also characterized by leaf drop while petioles remain. However, while the same fungus causes both Cercospora Blight and Purple Seed Stain, there’s no clear association as to how much seed stain will be observed if the leaf blight also occurred. The fungus, Cercospora kikuchii, is related to the fungi causing gray leaf spot in corn and frogeye leaf spot in soybean. Thus, humidity, leaf wetness, rain, and the cloudy conditions experienced in August and early September allowed for Cercospora species in general to increase late this past year. Purple seed stain symptoms appear as pink or purple specks or splotches occurring on the soybean seed. I haven’t heard of enough seed symptoms in loads to affect docking, but it could happen if fields were affected severely enough. There are resistant varieties to Cercopsora blight but no known resistance for purple seed stain. The fungus is seed transmitted, so seed infected with purple seed stain should be treated with a fungicide seed treatment if used for seed.
Soybean problems: Diaporthe/Phomopsis complex may be the explanation for those of you who had patches of fields turn brown/gray and die early with pods appearing flat and seeds shrunken/moldy. That’s not to say there hasn’t been other problems such as anthracnose, phytophthora, and some sudden death syndrome as well. Keeping a few stems and sending them into a diagnostic lab is the best way to tell. The Diaporthe/Phomopsis complex includes a number of diseases including Pod and Stem Blight, Stem Canker, and Phomopsis Seed Decay. Infections can occur at any time on the plants, but infection increases with warm/humid weather close to maturity (as we experienced this year), wet weather during harvest increases pod infection, and high winds/hail/and other events that allow entry-way for pathogens into the plant.
Wheat: It’s been great to receive questions the past few weeks on planting wheat! For those seeking resources, my colleague Nathan Mueller in Dodge County has dedicated a section of his web page (http://croptechcafe.org/winterwheat/) to growing wheat in Eastern NE including an email listserv that shares new information. There was also an edition of UNL CropWatch devoted to winter wheat information here: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2018/august-31-2018. Key points I emphasize for wheat include: killing out volunteer wheat at least 2 weeks prior to planting new wheat, treating wheat with fungicide seed treatment, and ensuring proper seeding depth by ensuring enough weight on the seeder particularly when no-till planting into residue.
I realize the economics for one year don’t look great for wheat. However, looking at the bigger picture, what is that wheat crop allowing in adding additional time for a forage or cover crop, breaking pest cycles, and giving you an additional 2-3 months time before needing to apply herbicides for weeds like palmer amaranth? And, what is it providing in residue for the following year to help reduce the number of weeds you see? The following comes from an article Nathan wrote on his website. There’s many benefits for adding wheat in rotation and perhaps it’s something you wish to consider this year! “Adding wheat to your eastern Nebraska cropping system can offer many other benefits:
- Additional revenue in utilizing or selling the straw
- Added profit by growing more late summer and early fall forage crops
- Ability to more effectively incorporate cover crops
- Selling grain at elevators with good basis, for example wheat often is 10 cents above futures in Fremont
- Reducing herbicide cost for troublesome weeds like marestail, waterhemp, and Palmer amaranth, in short, disrupting weed cycles
- Higher soybean yields in 3-yr rotation due to reduction in pest pressure
- Potential reduction in yield loss from compaction by not driving on wetter soils during manure application in the fall and spring.
- Opportunity to contract with feedlots for manure application in the summer months
- Reduce soil erosion and nutrient loss during high risk months of April-May-June.
- Improved soil health, soil structure, and infiltration may provide long-term profitability
- Reduced labor cost through better distribution of workload on the farm.
- Possible higher cost share for conservation work during the months of July, August, September.
- Possible higher USDA CSP ranking score for planting winter wheat resulting in additional revenue
- During periods of dry years, dryland corn yield boost the following year.
- Demonstrated local success at obtaining high yields (100 bushel/ac)”
Early Leaf Drop: The rain and humidity increased our fungal diseases in shade trees and we’re seeing early leaf drop in some species as a result. In particular, I’ve received calls and looked at ash, maples, lindens, crabapples, and flowering pears. Early leaf drop also may be due to the environmental swings we experienced this year from rain and cooler temps to hot, dry conditions. We don’t recommend homeowners do anything about this and it shouldn’t impact the long-term health of the tree.
Great to see many farm families at Husker Harvest Days last week and also great to see harvest getting started! Just a reminder for all of us to watch for equipment on the roads and allow for extra time to slow down, particularly with the speed limit changes. Dawn, dusk, and the evening can be the hardest times to see equipment and it can be difficult to see how wide or long the equipment extends. Harvest is hard work and a lot of hours yet is also a blessing to finish the growing season. Here’s wishing everyone a safe harvest season!
Harvest: As storm and drought-damaged corn is being harvested, just a reminder that grain should be tested for presence of ear molds and any potential mycotoxins now in addition to moisture/test weight. I’m hearing some differences in what’s all being tested when the harvest sample is taken, so be sure to talk to your insurance agent about this. It’s important to also test for mold and potential mycotoxins as that gives you an indication of what’s in the grain, particularly if any grain is going into the bin. We’d recommend not binning the worst damaged fields/areas of fields, particularly if you have a lot of diplodia in the field. Drying grain to 14% moisture as quickly as possible will stop most fungal growth and we recommend drying to 13% if diplodia is an issue in your corn ears. I’m also consistently hearing about light test weights in the storm damaged grain.
Rapid crop dry down has been a topic of conversation; I’ll share more next week. Briefly, grain moisture loss occurs when husks lose their color, when portions of the ear are exposed above the husk, with looser husks around the ears, when ears turn down, and when there’s fewer and thinner husk leaves. For those asking about dying patches in soybean fields (in which pods are not filling seeds), I’m consistently finding anthracnose in samples but am unsure it’s always been the cause. The concern with rapid dry down in corn is just how quickly these plants are cannibalizing stalks to keep filling ears, the amount of stalk rot in fields, and large ears (watch for potential weakened ear shanks due to various stresses). I test for stalk rot using a pinch test where I pinch the internode between the lower plant nodes for 20 plants and determine a percentage throughout portions of fields. Consider harvesting fields with higher amounts of stalk rot/weakened ear shanks first and also consider harvesting at higher moisture. I’m finding stalk quality quickly deteriorating, even in non-storm damaged fields.
For those with palmer amaranth on field edges, just a reminder that 99% of the seed is still viable going through that combine. Thus, the combine is one of the best ways of spreading palmer throughout your field and from field to field. My recommendation from observing palmer spread the past five years is to avoid combining field edges, strips, or patches where palmer is an issue. Instead, disk down the field edges to bury the seed and then plant an inexpensive small grain like bin-run wheat to reduce early germination next spring. Some have also planted rye. I don’t know if shredding vs. one-time disking is as effective this time of year (since palmer shoots seed heads at the soil line too but unsure if if produces viable seed past mid-September here). As I’ve spoken during pesticide trainings and other meetings, farmers have also shared their experiences. Some farmers shared they took this advice and reduced the problem the successive year and didn’t spread it through their fields (even if they were no-till farmers and had to till the field edges one time). I’ve had other farmers share they combined that field edge or patch and could tell the following year exactly where the combine went for the first few passes within the field as the palmer was a problem there. So, just another consideration as it takes a system’s approach for everything we do including weed management; palmer management begins right now with harvest.
Another management consideration is to harvest soybeans as close to 13% (the elevator standard) as possible. And, I realize this is easier for me to write about than to actually do depending on many factors! Soybeans delivered below or above 13% moisture lose potential profit. At greater than 13% moisture, there is a moisture dock on the scale ticket for delivering wet beans, resulting in a lower price per bushel. And with less than 13% moisture, profit is lost because there are fewer “bushels” to sell rather than a dockage on the ticket. There are fewer bushels because the load weight is divided by 60 pounds per bushel (assuming 13% moisture) rather than by the actual pounds per bushel for the moisture content of the beans at the time of delivery. If you sell soybeans at 8% moisture, you’re losing about 5.43% of your yield; at 9% moisture, it’s 4.4%; at 10% moisture, 3.3%; at 11% moisture, 2.25%; and at 12% moisture, it’s 1.14% yield loss. That doesn’t take into account additional risk for shatter losses during harvest. For a field that’s yielding 75 bu/ac, harvesting it at 9% results in selling 3.3 fewer bushels per acre based on weight because you’re not selling the water that you’re entitled to sell if the beans were at 13% moisture. With soybeans priced at $7/bushel, that’s a loss of about $23 per acre (with greater loss when soybean price increases).
By the time this is printed in newspapers, we’ll be remembering September 11th. Grateful for all the first responders and all who have served our Country to defend our freedom since that day. Grateful for the sacrifices their families have made as well. Thinking of and praying for the families of those who lost their lives in the attacks and in defense of our Country since. May we never forget!
Encouragement: The wet weather has created challenges with harvest, making silage, increasing ear/stalk rots, kernel germination, and dampening spirits. So seeking to encourage: grateful for the soil moisture profile recharge the rain has provided and how it’s allowing pastures to recover and cover crops to grow! It’s really special to live in a State where our State Fair is now so ag and family focused! It was wonderful seeing so many farm families during the fair and I look forward to seeing many during Husker Harvest Days too! Thankfully harvest will be here soon and we’ll appreciate the sunshine that much more when we see it again!
Sprouted Kernels: I’m seeing and hearing of kernel sprouting in hail damaged and drought stressed corn in addition to corn hybrids that have tighter husks and upright ears. Sprouting is also occurring in soybean. So why are we seeing this?
Prior to full maturity it comes down to a hormonal imbalance within the kernels between gibberellin and abscisic acid (ABA). According to a study by White, et. al (2000), Gibberellin production with the lack of ABA allowed for kernel germination while less Gibberellin and more ABA deterred kernel germination. At full maturity, very little ABA is left in the kernel (in both corn and soybeans) which allows them to germinate in correct conditions after harvest.
These conditions include temperatures above 50ºF and moisture. Thus the continuous drizzle and rain we’ve experienced can allow for sprouting within soybean pods. In corn, sprouting under those conditions typically occurs at the base of the ear first but we’re also seeing it in exposed ear tips. We’ve also seen Fusarium and Gibberella ear rot fungi occurring in ears that have been damaged by hail and/or insects in ears. These fungi also produce gibberellins which can aid in the hormonal imbalance and stimulate kernel germination.
If you’re seeing kernel sprouting in your field, make sure your crop insurance adjuster is aware of the situation and submit samples for kernel damage due to mold and sprouting. Also check for mycotoxins prior to harvest if ear molds are a problem in your field. The local co-op will decide whether to accept the load based on percent damage and the standards they need to follow. If the load is rejected, contact your crop insurance agent to determine your next step.
Sprouted kernels lead to higher kernel damage and more fines in a load. Keys for harvest will include
- harvesting early,
- drying it to 14%, potentially drying at a high temperature to kill the sprout,
- screening out fines, and
- monitoring stored grain closely for hot spots, mold, and additional sprouting grain.
With the moisture continuing to exacerbate corn ear molds,particularly in hail damaged fields, you may also decide to take the grain for silage instead. More information regarding correctly making silage can be found at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2018/silage-hailed-corn.
Husker Harvest Days Cornstalk Baling Workshop: Baling of cornstalk residue has been an increasing topic of interest among growers. Reasons are many including residue management when cattle don’t graze a field, use of residue as a feedstuff, and as was the case in 2017, to bale up much of the downed ears with the cornstalks. With this interest, we’ve had individuals contact us about custom baling residue as an additional income source. With the topic of residue baling comes many questions. These include:
- What is the nutrient value of the residue removed from the field?
- What are the impacts of residual removal on subsequent yields and field soil properties?
- What is the feed value of that residue?
- How do I best set my current equipment to bale corn residue?
- Is my current equipment the best to bale corn residue?
This year, Nebraska Extension, Farm Progress, and several forage equipment manufacturers are partnering in a Corn Residue Baling Workshop at Husker Harvest Days (September 11-13). The workshop will be from 1:30-2:00 p.m. daily in the fields adjacent to the haying demonstrations, which begin at 2 p.m. Equipment manufacturers who have committed to the demonstration include: CNH, AGCO, Rowse Rakes, Vermeer, and John Deere.
Some of the manufacturers will be showcasing the same equipment in this workshop and in the haying demos. Each manufacturer will talk briefly about their equipment and specific settings that might be needed to make their machinery work better on residue. Because of the high moisture content of the corn residue during the Husker Harvest Days Show, equipment demonstrations of baling residue are not a possibility; however, videos of the manufacturers’ equipment in action can be viewed in the University of Nebraska Institute of Ag and Natural Resources building.