Crop Updates: A great deal of timely information was provided in this week’s CropWatch at http://cropwatch.unl.edu including information about high heat and pollination, applying fertilizer during pollination, western bean cutworm scouting, forecasted yields, etc. Please check it out!
Several called me asking about applying fertilizer during pollination. I shared that while
I wasn’t aware of research, I personally was concerned about anything potentially interfering with pollination and that I do recommend 30 lbs of N at brown silk if needed or if you were originally planning split nitrogen apps. This is based on research from Purdue sharing today’s hybrids use 30-40% of their total Nitrogen from flowering through maturity. After discussing with Dr. Tom Hoegemeyer, Adjunct UNL Professor of Practice, he offered the following insights: “Pollination mostly occurs between 8:30 a.m. and Noon. Thus, as a precaution, I would not run a pivot on pollinating corn from 6 a.m. to Noon. When the temperature is 90°F to 95°F, the pollen is killed by heat and is seldom viable past 2 p.m. That leaves lots of time to run pivots, apply N, etc. when it won’t harm pollination. Silks tend to be viable for three or four days at these temperatures, so if a plant isn’t pollinated one day, generally the next day will work just fine. (If nitrogen is needed), I’d recommend that nitrogen go on as soon as practical. Corn nitrogen use is very high during the pre-tassel growth phase and again at kernel growth, from one to three weeks post pollination. About seven to ten days post pollination (before brown silk) lower N will start causing kernel abortion and serious yield loss in corn.” The UNL recommendation for fertigation is to use 30 lb of N with 0.25″ of water or 50-60 lb of N with 0.50″ of water.
Last week also brought questions regarding thresholds and difficulty in finding Western Bean Cutworm egg masses with moth flights at their peak. You can view light trap data from UNL’s South Central Ag Lab thanks to Terry Devries at: https://scal.unl.edu/ltr2018.pdf. There’s also a great article in this week’s CropWatch on how to scout for them, insecticide options, and additional recommendations. Thresholds for western bean cutworm are 5-8% of corn plants in the field containing egg masses or larvae. Egg masses can be difficult to find during pollination with pollen hiding them. ‘Typically’ egg masses are found in the top third of the plant on the upper sides of leaves and near midribs or leaf axils. However, with higher heat, I tend to find them closer to the ears and have even seen masses laid on the ear husks and on the backsides of leaves (not common). While larvae are generally known to move up the plant to feed at the tassels, I’ve seen high heat force larvae into ears earlier. It typically takes 5-7 days for larvae to hatch and the egg masses turn purple just prior to hatching. A number of insecticide options are available for both aerial application and via chemigation; these products are listed in the CropWatch article.
With insecticide applications occurring in corn for both western bean cutworm and also corn rootworm beetles, many have also called or talked with me about the recommendation of fungicide applications. Right now, I haven’t found gray leaf spot above 3 leaves below the ear leaf in several counties. There’s been some mis-diagnosing bacterial leaf streak as gray leaf spot. Southern rust was just confirmed in a Kansas county this week, but we still have yet to confirm it in Nebraska. Even the longest residual products won’t get us through August if a fungicide application occurs now. I can appreciate that economics are tight so the thought is to save an additional application cost by applying a fungicide now with the insecticide. And, I can appreciate economics are tight regarding why apply a fungicide right now when disease pressure doesn’t warrant it? Perhaps, at least those of you with the ability to chemigate could consider waiting till disease pressure warrants it for your field, if it does. Always in the back of my mind is the need for late-season protection with southern rust eventually showing up and gray leaf spot often worse then.
My perspective is from a resistance management and research-based one. We have 5 total modes of action for fungicides with 2 of them being in nearly every fungicide product we use in corn, soybean, and wheat because they work against foliar fungal pathogens. At some point, our pathogens will also adapt, as we’ve seen our weeds and insects do…it would be like losing our ability to control gray leaf spot and southern rust similar to palmer amaranth on the weed side. In Nebraska, Dr. Tamra Jackson-Ziem’s research has not shown an automatic yield increase to fungicide application in the absence of disease. And, it has also not shown an automatic yield increase when applied at tassel. In a high heat and low disease year like 2012, there were no statistical yield differences with fungicide application vs. the untreated control. Even in years with some disease pressure such as 2008-2010, she found no statistical yield differences between when various products were applied from Tassel through Dough stages. In high disease years, her research shows the benefit of fungicide application for reduced disease pressure and increased stalk strength. Fungicides are great tools to help us with disease pressure and stalk strength. Just would encourage all of us to consider when we really need to apply them and to understand that research in Nebraska does not automatically show increased yields with the use of them or with the timing of Tassel/Silking vs. later in the year. Also, hybrids may vary in their response due to disease susceptibility and other factors. Not all her data is listed at this site, but you can view it for yourself at: https://go.unl.edu/ni3y.
Bagworms: I’ve been seeing shelter belts and various trees turning brown from heavy
bagworm infestations. Please be checking your trees if you are noticing them turning brown. Additional information can be found at: https://go.unl.edu/rgju.
Several of us had been watching the USDA IPM Pipe Map for weeks. It wasn’t showing southern rust moving and only Georgia was really lit up. Yet, I had heard reports in Texas and Oklahoma at one point. Spots were evident on corn leaves when backlit-so they were bound to develop into something.
That something has showed itself to be southern rust last week as it was confirmed in 11 Nebraska Counties: Kearney, Adams, Clay, Nuckolls, Thayer, Fillmore, Gage, Platte, Polk, York, and Boone. I’d like to thank all the crop consultants and ag industry professionals for sharing information on what we all were seeing and for submitting samples.
So the common question was, why didn’t the map show anything south of us? Federal funding was no longer available for this site and scouting efforts associated with it. Many Extension Plant Pathologists weren’t aware that the site was even still online and were sharing information via other means instead. The map for Nebraska will continue to be updated, but for surrounding states, it is advised to consult with your local Extension Plant Pathologist.
When differentiating between southern rust vs. common rust, there are several criteria to consider and this NebGuide is a great resource. Typically common rust will have brick-red pustules randomly scattered on the upper and lower leaf surfaces that are larger in size.
For southern rust, we’re seeing very small, raised, tan-orange pustules on the upper leaf surface of leaves in localized areas on mid-upper leaves. These pustules are tightly clustered on the leaves. However, color and size are relative as sometimes the two diseases can look alike.
Microscopic observation is the best way to differentiate the two diseases. Fungal spores from Puccinia sorghi causing common rust will be near perfect round circles whereas fungal spores from Puccinia polysora will be oblong in shape.
With the cooler weather last week, we were unsure how the disease would progress. Southern rust likes sustained temperatures in the 80’s-90’sF with humidity and leaf wetness. So we encourage scouting for it.
We saw how southern rust can be devastating to fields in the past regarding removing photosynthetic tissue leading to cannabalization of the stalk. In determining a fungicide application, consider disease pressure in your field, stage of growth, pre-harvest intervals, and length of time for fungicide residual in addition to economics.
Other plant samples brought in contained diseases such as physoderma brown spot (which isn’t a significant yield limiting disease of corn). Because the spores of this fungus move via water (it’s closely related to oomycetes), numerous lesions can appear on leaves in bands or areas where water collects. While the lesions may look like early southern rust, there will be no pustules present and often the purple colored lesions will also be observed in the midrib, leaf sheath, stalk, and outer husks.