The sun has been welcomed and crops are rapidly growing in South Central Nebraska! Corn right now is between V6-V8 (6-8 leaf) for the most part. Quite a few farmers were side-dressing and hilling corn the past two weeks. It never fails that corn looks a little stressed after this as moisture is released from the soil and roots aren’t quite down to deeper moisture.
Installing watermark sensors for irrigation scheduling, we’re finding good moisture to 3 feet in all fields in the area. The driest fields are those which were converted from pasture last year and we want to be watching the third foot especially in those fields. Pivots are running in some fields because corn looks stressed, but there’s plenty of moisture in the soil based on the watermark sensor readings I’m receiving for the entire area. So we would recommend to allow your crops to continue to root down to uptake deeper moisture and nitrogen.
The last few weeks we observed many patterns from fertilizer applications in fields but as corn and root systems are developing, they are growing out of it. We’ve also observed some rapid growth syndrome in plants. This can result from the quick transition we had from cooler temperatures to warmer temperatures, which leads to rapid leaf growth faster than they can emerge from the whorl. Plants may have some twisted whorls and/or lighter discoloration of these leaves, but they will green up upon unfurling and receiving sunlight. This shouldn’t affect yield.
Damping off has been a problem in areas where we had water ponded or saturated conditions for periods of time. We’ve also observed some uneven emergence in various fields from potentially a combination of factors including some cold shock to germinating seedlings.
We began applying sugar to our on-farm research sugar vs. check studies in corn. We will continue to monitor disease and insect pressure in these plots and determine percent stalk rot and yield at the end of the season.
Leaf and stripe rust can be observed in wheat fields in the area and wheat is beginning to turn. We had some problems with wheat streak mosaic virus in the area again affecting producers’ neighboring fields when volunteer wheat wasn’t killed last fall. Alfalfa is beginning to regrow after first cutting and we’re encouraging producers to look for alfalfa weevils. All our crops could really use a nice slow rain right now!
It’s wonderful receiving the rain we did, seeing how quickly planting progress came along, and how quickly corn is popping out of the ground! Being mid-May, it’s time to get our Evapotranspiration (ET) gages out. A reminder to only use distilled water in the gages, make sure to fill up the ceramic top portion of the gage before inserting the stopper, and gently dust off the ceramic top and replace the white membrane and green canvas cover. We recommend replacing those membranes and covers each year so if you need a new one, please let the Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) or me know and we’ll get you a new one! For those of you recording ET information online, please be sure to do so consistently each week to help your neighbors and crop consultants.
Early after crop emergence is the best time to install watermark sensors. For those of you with watermark sensors, read them to ensure they read 199 kpa (dry). Then “prime” them first by soaking them for 24 hours in water to ensure all the air bubbles have been released. The sensors should have a reading of 10 kpa or below to be considered good. If they read higher than that, either continue soaking them another 24 hours and read them again, or plan that they no longer are reading correctly and replace them with others from the NRDs. Remember after soaking sensors that water moves up into the PVC pipe via capillary action, so be sure to dump the water out of the pipe as well.
When installing the sensors, be sure to install them wet, drain excess water, and look for areas that are not compacted, avoid tractor wheel tracks, and look for even spacing of plants. Carefully install without breaking off any plants (thus easier when plants are small!). It’s also important not to install sensors into extremely wet fields. What we have found is that a thin soil layer can cover the sensor when pushing it into the soil of very wet fields. When that soil layer dries, it can provide a reading of 199 saying the sensor is dry when it truly isn’t. If this happens to you, simply remove the sensor, rewet for one minute and re-install. It should be acclimated to field conditions within 48 hours. If you have any questions regarding the installation process, please let the NRDs or your local Extension Educator know. You can also view videos of the installation process and receive additional information to answer your questions.
Well, August has begun and so has the season for field days. Here are a few I hope you mark on your calendars and plan on attending. Also a reminder, for all drought information from UNL Extension including crop, livestock, water, lawn, and garden, please check out http://droughtresources.unl.edu.
With the drought and a shortage of forages, if you are considering harvesting or grazing crops for forage, it is important to consider the herbicide restrictions applied to these fields. Check the labels of these herbicides to confirm that grazing restrictions or forage harvesting restrictions have been met before you turn livestock into the fields or cut the crop for hay or silage. Check out this link for more information.
Soybean Management Field Days Planned: Please mark the dates of the upcoming Soybean Management Field Days on your calendar. They are planned for August 14-17 with sessions planned for Lexington, O’Neill, Platte Center and David City. Registration for each of the Field Days starts at 9:00 a.m. with four one hour programs from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Topics include: Soybean Seed Treatments and Foliar Fungicides Growth Enhancement Interaction with Herbicides, Managing Land Leases and Soybean Marketing, Herbicide Carrier Rate Study and Quest for the Holy Grail in Soybean Production! Check out the sessions by going to http://ardc.unl.edu/soydays. The David City date and location is August 17th and it’s located from the Jct of 92 & Hwy 15, 1 mile east on 92 and ¾ mile north on county road.
South Central Ag Lab Field Day: Some of you have been asking about the next field day at South Central Ag Lab near Clay Center. Please mark your calendars for August 22 from 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m. Topics include: Weed control, timing, resistant weeds; Emerging diseases of corn and corn rootworm management options; Impacts of corn stover harvest on soil quality and greenhouse gas emissions; Variable rate nitrogen and irrigation management according to landscape variation; and Use of Soy-Water for managing soybean irrigation. There is no charge but please RSVP for a meal count by Friday, August 17 to (402) 762-4403. Hope to see you there!
York County Corn Grower Plot Tour: The York County Corn Growers Annual Plot tour will be held Thursday, August 23, 2012 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. This year’s cooperators are Ray and Ron Makovicka and the plot is located west of York on the Dwight Johnson farm. The plot is located ¾ miles north of Hwy 34 on Road I. Those attending will be able to check out the various corn varieties and visit with the seed company representatives. Supper will be served after the tour. Then there will be a report on 2012 practices, products used and irrigation update.
Also this year they have several different types of irrigation equipment in the field to monitor soil moisture and estimate crop ET. Systems in the field include: AquaCheck USA provided an AquaCheck soil moisture sensor system; Servitech provided the Profiler Watermark soil moisture sensor system; McCrometer provided an EnviroPro soil moisture sensor system; and AquaSpy provided AquaSpy soil moisture sensor system. Several of you have asked about wireless irrigation scheduling systems-here’s your chance to compare them all in one place!