Crop Update: The sunshine, hard freezes, and wind are helping dry things out. Grateful this week looks favorable for harvesting! Please continue to think safety. With the increase of late season diseases this year, I’ve been hearing reports of combines turning orange and/or black from fungal spores and running hot. This week’s CropWatch at https://cropwatch.unl.edu addresses fire safety during harvest if you’re interested in checking out those tips. Masks/respirators may help those affected by fungal spores.
The rains/humidity and also Fusarium/Gibberella fungal growth (which produce
giberellins) have allowed for some kernel sprouting on ears over the past month. Sprouting can occur anywhere on the ear, particularly at the base or places where hail and/or insect damage occurred. Upon reaching maturity, hormone levels within the kernels change allowing for higher levels of gibberellin compared to low/no abscisic acid. This gives kernels the ability to sprout. We just prefer not to see this in fields prior to harvest; thus, you may wish to alert your crop insurance adjuster of these situations. Be aware sprouted kernels lead to higher kernel damage and can increase fines in a load. These kernels may also be lighter and blown out the back of the combine. In case they’re not, drying to 14% will help kill the sprout and be sure to monitor stored grain closely for hot spots, mold, and additional sprouting grain.
Soybean and Freeze: Prior to the frost, I was receiving questions about yield loss to soybean at various growth stages, including, how to determine R7 (physiological maturity). Dr. Jim Specht took the lead on two CropWatch articles this week to address these questions. Ultimately, for each pod, physiological maturity occurs when the pod membrane no longer clings tightly to seeds in that pod. For pods still at R6 (green bean stage with membrane clinging to seed), yield loss can be significant, anywhere from 35-50% depending on if the plant is in early or late R6. At R7, 0-5% yield loss is expected.
Oct. 16 Ag Bankruptcy Webinar: Lower commodity prices, extreme weather, and ongoing trade tensions in world markets have contributed to widespread financial strain throughout American agriculture. The American Farm Bureau Federation recently reported that “the delinquency rates for commercial agricultural loans in both the real estate and non-real estate lending sectors are at a six-year high” and that Chapter 12 bankruptcies increased the previous year in all but one region of the country. Recently, the Bankruptcy Code was amended to ease eligibility requirements for family farmers considering filing for Chapter 12 bankruptcy. A webinar on October 16th from 11-Noon (CST) will provide a basic introduction to Chapter 12. It will discuss eligibility requirements, advantages of filing a Chapter 12 over other types of bankruptcy, and uses of a plan to make changes in the farming operation. For more information and to register, please go to: https://nationalaglawcenter.org/consortium/webinars/chapter12/.
Horticultural Plants and Frost: While many plants succumbed to the hard frosts, some protected plants did not. I’ve been asked when should perennial foliage be cut back in the fall. The answer is to wait until a hard freeze kills the foliage. This is because photosynthesis is still occurring on plants with green foliage, so carbohydrates and sugars are being moved to roots for winter storage, increasing plant vigor for next spring. You can also leave the foliage till early spring for winter interest.
Vegetables/Fruits and Frost: Rhubarb should not be harvested or eaten when leaves are wilted and limp and stalks become soft/mushy after a hard freeze. Otherwise, there’s no toxicity concerns with other vegetables/fruits after frost. The texture and storage potential of other vegetables are affected by freezing temperatures, such as lettuce, peppers, summer squash and sweet potatoes. Some vegetables may actually improve in flavor following freezing temperatures, including parsnip, Jerusalem artichoke and horseradish.
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.
The latest event in the Clay County storm occurring August 1st has become germination of “good” kernels left on the ears that have been damaged by hail. This event of kernel germination prior to harvest is also called “vivipary”.
Typically we wouldn’t see this occur before black layer because of the hormonal balance within the kernels-particularly the balance between gibberellin and abscisic acid. 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. But this can also allow for sprouting in the ear after black layer when corn is still drying down, particularly in tight-husked, upright ears with conditions of high humidity or rain after black layer. Sprouting under those conditions typically occurs at the base of the ear first.
Why are kernels sprouting before we’ve reached black layer?
That’s a good question. I haven’t found much in the way of scientific explanation other than the thought that the hormonal balance of the kernels can be altered by physical damage from hail, bird feeding, and grain mold. Some ear mold fungi also produce gibberellic acid which can lead to a hormonal balance shift in these ears stimulating germination. I also haven’t observed that this is hybrid-dependent and am finding as much as 25-50% sprouted ears in various areas of hail-damaged fields.
Make sure your crop insurance adjuster is aware of the situation and make sure to submit samples for kernel damage due to mold, sprouting, and check for mycotoxins prior to harvest.
The local co-op may or may not choose to accept the load depending 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. DO NOT bin the grain on your farm until you contact your insurance agent as they have specific rules that need to be followed in the case of grain rejected due to mycotoxins or kernel damage from storms.
Sprouted kernels lead to higher kernel damage and more fines in a load. Keys for harvest will include harvesting early, getting corn dried down 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.
You can also choose not to take it to grain right now, and honestly, that may be the best option for several of the hail-damaged fields. Silage is still an option and it would be recommended to sample the green chop going into the silage pit for potential mycotoxins. Mycotoxin level does not change with fermentation so cattle feeders would have a good idea of any mycotoxin levels if sampling was done in this manner. See this post for additional information on making silage.
Du-Pont Pioneer. (2007). Field Facts: Pre-mature Germination of Corn Kernels.
Nielsen, R.L. (2012). Premature Corn Kernel Sprouting (aka Vivipary). Corny News Network, Purdue University.
White et. al. (2000). Gibberellins and Seed Development in Maize. II. Gibberellin Synthesis Inhibition Enhances Abscisic Acid Signaling in Cultured Embryos. Plant Physiology Vol. 122 no. 4 pg. 1089-1098.
Wiebold, B. (2009). Wet Weather Can Cause Seeds to Sprout before Harvest. Integrated Pest & Crop Management Newsletter, Univ of Missouri.