Corn: I really enjoy this stage when corn is just tall enough to give the fields a green cast when looking at them from an angle. There continues to be discussion and questions about uneven corn emergence. Like many, I wasn’t anticipating seeing uneven emergence after having great soil conditions (right moisture and a warming trend of temps) for planting. Variations in soil temp, depth, and moisture can delay germination from a few days or longer. Residue blowing back over the row explained much difference in emergence this year. I wish I would’ve noted the days on my calendar, but there’s a couple warm days in late April during planting where it just seemed like the moisture rapidly left the soil surface. And, in conversations it seems as if others noticed that too. So I think moisture around seed was another factor as was fertilizer burn in some situations. Purdue University has some research which showed yield reductions of 6-9% for plants emerging 1.5 weeks later than a uniformly emerging stand. They also found yields of uneven stands to be similar to planting the stand 1.5 weeks later.
If you’re side-dressing nitrogen and interested in testing different rates, we have some on-farm research protocols available at: https://go.unl.edu/tv63.
With warmer temperatures anticipated, corn will grow rapidly. This week we wrote an article in CropWatch regarding proper growth staging of plants; this will be extra critical once we hit V6+. Remember to use the leaf collar method and this is how I explain it. A collar develops at the leaf base near the stalk after each leaf fully expands. Think about collars like the collar on a button-down shirt. The collar flares slightly at one’s neck, just as a true exposed leaf collar flares at the base of the leaf at the stem. Start counting leaves at the base of the plant with the smallest rounded-tip leaf with a collar as #1. From there count every leaf with a true collar. Leaves that are still wrapped in the whorl around the main stem without exposed leaf collars are not counted. I recommend taking a picture inside the end rows to document the growth stage of your field prior to the post-application of herbicide. Next week I will share my experiences with proper growth staging to avoid ear abnormalities. Also be aware of potential off-target movement with dicamba products and higher temperatures.
Soybean: In most cases, soybeans are looking really good. There have been situations this week with herbicide damage to beans that may have been cracking when irrigation or rainfall event occurred allowing some pre-emergent herbicide to enter the row. Pre- herbicides can also rain splash onto cotyledons and first leaves making them look bad, but usually doesn’t kill them unless the weather stays cold and wet. If the plants end up severely pinched below the cotyledons, they won’t survive. Otherwise, keep watching them as they may continue to grow (warm weather will allow them to grow and metabolize the chemical better). I think we’re also possibly seeing some environmental effects from the cold conditions that occurred after planting/emergence when we can’t always explain the appearance of injury on the plant by herbicide. The ‘halo’ effect of ILeVo is another thing that is being mistaken as herbicide and/or environmental injury but it doesn’t last past the cotyledon stage.
Coronavirus Food Assistance Program for Crop Producers Webinar: There will be a webinar on June 4th at Noon (CST) to learn more. Registration is required at the following site: https://go.unl.edu/wj0e. In the meantime, Dr. Brad Lubben has put together an article with more information at: https://go.unl.edu/h3aq. All webinars are also archived at that same web link.
Irrigation Scheduling Equipment: It’s also a great time to get irrigation scheduling equipment installed! I decided to make a quick video instead of writing; it can be found at: https://youtu.be/4r5gn2pvvB4.
Gardeners: For all of you gardening for the first time, congrats! Some tips: keep soil moisture even by ensuring plants have around 1” of water/week (Best to water at base of plant; if use sprinkler, do so in early morning). Mulching gardens with leaves, grass clippings, straw, newspapers aids in conserving moisture, reducing weeds, and maintaining stable soil temperature. If herbicides were added to grass clippings, make sure to read the label for if/when they can be applied to a garden. In general, many labels will say grass clippings are safe after 4 mowings.
This past week was a blur of calls, questions, and visits to homes and fields but it was a great week and flew by staying very busy! I’ll touch on a few of the common questions I’ve received this week.
Trees: Some trees such as willows, hackberries, tops of maple trees, ash, and black walnut are just taking time leafing out. Some trees leafed out once already and dropped leaves. Things that may have caused this were the sudden flux of temperatures from very warm to cool and the strong winds we received. Some trees have also unfortunately had herbicide drift damage that caused leaves to drop. On those trees, watch for new buds as nearly every situation I’ve looked at thus far have new buds forming after about a week-10 days. With all these situations, give the trees a few weeks to leaf out again and if they’re still not doing it, feel free to give me a call. Trees are interesting plants as sometimes environmental impacts that happened 3-5 years ago will show up that much later-and sometimes environmental impacts show up right away!
Disease/Insect issues: This year has been a strange year all around but with our warm winter, I was concerned about an increase in diseases and insects. Thus far, we’re experiencing increases in both-so hang on-it may be a long growing season! Our high humidity, warm temps, and heavy dews have created perfect conditions for fungal diseases on our trees, ornamental plants, lawns (I’m currently fighting a bad case of powdery mildew-as a plant pathologist it is kind of pretty but I don’t like what it’s doing to my lawn!), and in our wheat and alfalfa crops and some pasture grasses. Fungicides may help in some of these situations, increasing airflow can also help as can more resistant varieties or hoping the weather will change. In the case of most ornamentals, we don’t usually recommend doing anything. The same goes for insects as insecticides can help in some situations. I’ve received several calls this past week of people afraid they had herbicide drift damage. While there were a few cases of that, many of the cases were actually fungal leaf spots on leaves. There are various fungicides and insecticide products available from home/garden centers, etc. Be sure to read and follow all label directions and only apply the product on places the label specifies it can be applied.
Crops Update: Later this week we may have a better idea on the extent of storm damage and if some fields will need to be replanted after the storms from last week. Dr. Bob Nielsen from Purdue University reported that most agronomists believe young corn can survive up to about four days of ponding if temperatures are relatively cool (mid-60’s F or cooler); fewer days if temperatures are warm (mid-70’s F or warmer). Soil oxygen is depleted within about 48 hours of saturation and we know soil oxygen is important for the root system and all the plant’s life functions. So we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
Have also had a few calls regarding rye cover crops. When rye is killed out and decomposing, it releases toxins that can affect the germination of other cereal crops such as corn if it’s going to be planted into that rye cover crop. Thus we recommend at UNL that the producer kill the rye and then wait at least two weeks to prevent any major damage to the crop. I realize at this point with the rains to get in and kill that crop on top of waiting an additional two weeks, we’re getting close to the end of the month and will most likely be looking at reduced yields…and depending on maturity, you may need to consider different seed if you end up having to plant in June. If you have specific questions about this, please let me know and we can talk through some situations.
Stripe rust and powdery mildew have been obliterating mid-lower canopies of many wheat fields. I’ve received several calls on why wheat canopies are yellow-that’s the main reason but other factors such as the dry spell prior to these rains and/or deficiencies in nitrogen/sulfur or some viruses may also have been factors. Wheat in Nuckolls County last week was beginning to flower. Fungicides such as Prosaro, Folicur, or Proline are labeled for up to 50% flowering and cannot be applied after that. Remember the wheat head begins pollination in the middle-so if you’re seeing little yellow anthers at the top or bottom of that head, you’re towards the end of flowering. All those products have a 30 day pre-harvest interval-which has been the other main question-are we going to be harvesting in a month? I do believe we’ll be harvesting a month earlier than normal just because pretty much everything in wheat development is about a month ahead of schedule. I still feel the 30 day window for the fungicide application is worth it with the large amount of disease pressure we’ve seen. Wheat in Clay Co. and north still may have time for a fungicide application; those products mentioned above will help prevent Fusarium Head Blight (scab) as well as kill the fungi causing disease already present on your leaves. A list of all fungicide products, pre-harvest restrictions, and rates can be found here. Also check out my previous blog post with video on scouting for wheat diseases.
The other major disease appearing in wheat is barley yellow dwarf virus. This is a virus vectored by bird cherry oat aphids which we were seeing earlier this year. Unfortunately, this disease causes the flag leaves to turn bright yellow-purple causing yield loss (at least 80% of the yield comes from the flag leaf) as there’s nothing you can do once the virus manifests itself in those leaves. If you have a large incidence of barley yellow dwarf in your fields, you may wish to reconsider spraying a fungicide as the fungicide won’t kill the virus; however, it will help kill the fungi on the remainder of your leaves and potentially help protect some yield from the two leaves below the flag leaf.