The rain was welcome on Thursday but the wind and hail damage that came were devastating to a good portion of the County. I’m so sorry to all of you affected….for some of you, this is two years in a row of severely hail damaged or totaled out crops. We are thankful the damage wasn’t worse. You can see more pictures here.
So the big question is what do you do now? Ultimately, each field will need to be assessed on a case by case basis. The following are our NebGuides for hail damage to corn and soybeans. For the most part we were in brown-silk to blister for corn and late pod-beginning seed in soybean (R4-R5). The concerns I have right now are stalk quality, disease, grain filling, and the amount of diseased grain we may have due to mushy areas on hail-damaged cobs right now. Several years ago, we watched how severely hail-damaged corn a little later in the season turned brown and died. We also know that southern rust is in the area and while much of the leaf tissue in the County is damaged, it is still in the County in other fields and south of us. The Puccinia polysora fungus that causes southern rust, when severe enough, will infect and cause pustules on the stalks. With the wounding and low leaf area for photosynthesis, stalk strength is a concern and fungicides may be a consideration depending on potential yield loss-again need to assess on a field by field basis.
I talked with a number of people on Friday regarding thoughts on silage, green chop, haying/baling, planting cover crops, etc. Dr. Bruce Anderson, UNL Extension Forage Specialist, said the most common salvage operation for corn damaged by hail, wind, drought, or other calamities is to chop it for silage. Don’t be in a hurry, though. Standing corn currently could be over 80 percent moisture. The easiest way, and maybe the best way, to lower moisture content is simply wait until some stalks start to turn brown. Waiting also allows surviving corn to continue to add tonnage.
But in some of our damaged fields, I don’t think we can wait to make silage. Bruce also shared you can reduce moisture by windowing the crop and allow it to wilt one-half to one full day before chopping. You also could mix grain or chopped hay to freshly chopped corn to lower the moisture content. It takes quite a bit of material for mixing though – about 7 bushels of grain or 350 pounds of hay to lower each ton of silage down to 70 percent moisture from an original 80 percent moisture. That’s 7 bushels grain or 350 pounds of hay for each ton of silage.
Or, you can allow that windrowed corn to dry completely and bale it as hay. Be sure to test it for nitrates before feeding. Grazing might be the easiest way to use damaged corn, and this is a good way to extend your grazing season. You might even plant some corn grain or sorghum-sudangrass or oats and turnips between rows to grow more forage for grazing if you can wait until late fall before grazing. Be sure to introduce livestock slowly to this new forage by feeding them before turning in to reduce the chances of digestive problems. Also, strip graze the field to reduce trampling losses and get more grazing from the corn.
As I set here writing, we went from wearing t-shirts yesterday to receiving freezing rain and sleet today! The precipitation is much welcomed and it’s nice to see spring bulbs coming up and the grass turning green! But we’re unfortunately not out of the woods yet regarding this drought, and may not be for some time.
This Thursday, April 11, Elizabeth Killinger, UNL Extension Educator in Hall County, will be talking to us about gardening during drought. Come enjoy an evening of learning about drought-tolerant plants and ideas for your landscape! The evening begins with a light supper at 5:30 p.m. and we plan to be finished around 7:00 p.m. There will be no charge for this workshop, so please come and invite your friends and your youth who enjoy gardening as well!
Also, if you would like to bring some plants for exchange, you are welcome to do so and share with others! Please call the Clay County Extension Office at (402) 762-3644 or Jenny at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know you’re coming so we can plan for the meal. See you then!
Even with recent rain and snow events, the subsoil is still dry. You may be wondering,
“What should I do regarding corn planting rates in 2013?”
A few weeks ago, UNL Extension held our on-farm research meetings to share our 2012 Corn Planting Rate results for irrigated and dryland conditions. I always enjoy hearing our farmers share why they were interested in a certain trial and what they found out as a result.
The results since 2010 continue to show us that each individual hybrid varies in its response to increasing populations; however, there is a general trend with newer hybrids that increasing population results in increased yields. Dr. Tom Hoegemeyer, UNL Agronomy Professor of Practice spoke about how our hybrids have genetically come so far in combating various stresses while maintaining yields. We know that many seed companies have conducted research to determine the population calibration curve for each hybrid to determine best recommendations for you. Thus, we’d recommend that you check with your seed dealer to determine which hybrid may fit best at which population for your operation.
Even with this data, you may question if that’s truly the best population for your field; that’s where on-farm research comes in! We recommend testing the recommended population against a higher and lower population with at least 4000 seeds/acre difference in planted population-whether irrigated or dryland. With today’s technologies, it’s not very difficult to test seeding rates for different hybrids for yourself!
So what rate should you plant this year? In the majority of our irrigated studies, economically, many hybrids maximized yields and economic returns between 32,000-36,0o0 seeds/acre. Again, this is very hybrid dependent so ask your seed dealer what he/she would recommend and test for yourself!
Regarding limited irrigation, UNL research has actually shown a negative effect of lost yield by backing off population too far in a dry year.
Tom’s recommendation was for dryland in Eastern Nebraska, most hybrids even with the low soil moisture profile should be ok with planting 24,000-28,000 seeds/acre. I realize we have essentially no moisture in our profile. But taking probabilities of rainfall events, March-May is usually pretty good and we don’t want to short-change ourselves in yield by planting too low of populations. For Central into Western, NE, I feel 20,000-22,000 seeds/acre will work for many hybrids. Our genetics have come so far since we finished the last drought in 2007 and were planting 18,000 seeds/acre in dryland. We will just keep praying for rain and hope for the best next year! Ultimately, test this and your other on-farm questions for yourself to know what will work for your farm!
What planting rates are you considering for 2013?