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JenREES 8/28/22

Last Irrigation: This really is dependent upon everyone’s individual soil moisture situation by field, crop development stage and crop rooting depth for that field. I have a fairly proven method I’ve used for watermark sensors, but being there’s so many different irrigation scheduling tools used, it won’t be applicable to everyone. We’re most likely done irrigating most ‘normal season’ corn in the area at this point. Corn at ½ milk needs approximately 13 days and 2.25” to finish. Corn at ¾ milk needs about 7 days and 1” till black layer. At this point, we’d say you can draw soil moisture down to 60% of field capacity. If you have the top foot at field capacity for a silt loam soil, there would be at least an inch available in the top foot alone, not accounting for soil moisture in the next several feet. So, you could wait a week and see where soil moisture is and adjust from there.

Photo via Dr. Jim Specht. Soybean pods collected from stage R7 plants (one mature pod per plant) that were opened to determine if the pod wall interior membrane was still clinging tightly to the seeds (leftmost pod), or if it was beginning to detach from the seeds (second pod), or if the membrane was now permanently attached to the pod wall (third pod). After attaining physiological maturity, seeds undergo a dry-down period from about 60% moisture to about 13% moisture. Note that the Rx.x numbers used here are pod-based stages, not plant-based stages.

What I said for corn above can also be applied for soybean. I think what’s trickier for soybean is determining the end reproductive stages, especially as we have been conditioned to look at ‘leaf yellowing’ as the beginning of physiological maturity, yet many factors can cause leaf changes. So I feel perhaps a better indicator of maturity is to look at the pods. For soybean development stages from R2 (full flower) to R6 (end of seed enlargement), we are looking at pods at the top 4 nodes of the plant. For R7 (full maturity), we are looking for at least 50% of the plants having one mature pod anywhere on the main stem.

So how do we know a pod is mature? Inside of each soybean pod, there is a whitish membrane around each seed that provides water and nutrients to the seed. A mature pod is considered when the pod membrane no longer clings tightly to seeds in that pod (this is like black layer on corn where the nutrient/water supply is cut off from the kernel forming the black layer). So essentially, if you pull off a pod on the main stem, carefully open it up and look at the white membrane surrounding the seed. If it’s still clinging tightly to it, it’s not quite mature. If you see separation of the membrane and seed, it’s considered mature and will no longer use water.

Soybeans at full seed (R6 end of seed enlargement) need approximately 18 days to maturity or 3.5” of water. At R6.5 (leaves yellowing/pod membranes still clinging to seed) the soybean needs 10 days or 1.9” yet until R7 (physiological maturity), in which the pod membrane has separated from the seed and requires no more water.

Soybean stems typically turn brown shortly after R7 begins, though the stem can remain green longer due to a number of reasons, including fungicide use. The final soybean stage is R8, which occurs when 95% of pods have attained maturity and have a variety-dependent color of brown or tan. Seed moisture in a soybean pod dries down from 70% at R7 to about 13% at R8. This has shown to be around 12 days based on research, but can be faster or slower depending on solar radiation, humidity, temperature, wind speed and soil surface moisture.

Eastern Nebraska Wheat and Alfalfa Expo will be held Sept. 1 at the Tuxedo Park Exhibition Building in Crete. The expo will begin at 8 a.m. with a light breakfast and exhibitor booths. The educational program starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. Wheat topics in the morning include: wheat variety recommendations, underseeding red clover, hail damage and wheat streak mosaic virus, cost-share programs for growing wheat, and feeding wheat grain to cattle. Topics on alfalfa in the afternoon include: benefits of diverse crop rotations for wildlife, managing potato leaf hoppers, irrigating alfalfa, and herbicide management. There’s no charge but please RSVP to 402-821-2151. More info. at: https://croptechcafe.org/alfalfawheatexpo/.



For Fun: Something that brings me great joy is the opportunity to teach youth who love to learn. I’m so blessed to have a wonderful group of families with youth interested in plants and science in my Crop Science Investigation (CSI) group! The youth pictured above were interested and old enough to compete at State Fair for the 4-H Weed and Grass ID (left) and 4-H Horticulture (right) judging contests. They invested a lot of time into studying and what makes my heart so happy is to see them so greatly enjoy learning and having fun while we identify plants! The York teams received 1st and 3rd place teams in Weed and Grass ID with 6 of the 7 youth placing in the top 10. We also had an individual place in the top 10 in Horticulture ID. So cool to see these youth learning these identification skills they will use for life!

JenREES 8/15/22

With every development stage this replant corn crop achieves, I’m grateful! Many fields will hopefully begin pollination soon. Late-planted crops can have quite a bit of disease and insect pressure develop late. Would encourage you to wait and treat fields when needed instead of automatically at beginning tassel.

Last irrigation: (days listed are based on GDUs, so consider this for your crop growth stage and field soil moisture levels so you can start tapering off). This tool helps you calculate potential black layer date based on your planting date and relative maturity: https://mygeohub.org/groups/u2u/purdue_gdd. What I’m currently seeing is that 2022 is around 70 GDD higher for York than the 30 year average and is tracking pretty similarly to 2012.

  • Corn at Dough needs 7.5” (approximately 34 days to maturity)
  • Corn at Beginning Dent needs 5” of water (approximately 24 days to maturity)
  • Corn at ¼ milk needs 3.75” (approximately 19 days to maturity)
  • Corn at ½ milk (Full Dent) needs 2.25” (approximately 13 days to maturity)
  • Soybean at beginning seed (R5) needs around 6.5” (approx. 29 days to maturity)
  • Soybean at full seed (R6) needs 3.5” (approx. 18 days to maturity)
  • Soybean with leaves beginning to yellow (R6.5) needs 1.9” (approx. 10 days to maturity)

I share that yet acknowledge what I’ve heard in the weariness of irrigating and the temptation to quit early. My guess is there’s many feeling this way…and it seems especially long to those who have replant crops. Ultimately would just encourage you to finish strong!

Verbal Land Lease Agreements: Have received a few questions on timing to notify of terminating a verbal land lease; that date is Sept. 1 for Nebraska. I have searched and am unaware of a good template for this notification. The verbal lease date doesn’t apply to written leases as dates should be specified within them. Templates for written leases can be found at: https://aglease101.org/doclib/.

Renovating Lawns in the Fall: August 15-September 15 are the best times to seed cool season grasses. Improving Turf in the Fall at https://go.unl.edu/rz9z is a great resource to walk you through renovation depending on your situation. Some lawns can be easily improved by adding fall fertilizer.

Sarah Browning, Extension Horticultural Educator shares, “Late summer or fall fertilization of Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue lawns is the most important time to fertilize these cool season grasses. Fertilizer promotes recovery from summer stress, increases density of thinned turf, encourages root and rhizome growth, and allows the plant to store food for next spring’s growth flush. Lawns that are 10-15 or more years old typically need only two fertilizer applications a year. Make the fall application in late August or early September. On younger lawns, two fertilizer applications during fall are recommended. Make the first one in late August/early September, and the second in mid-late October.”

If overseeding is needed to fill in thinned areas but more than 50% of good turf remains, mow the existing grass 2.5” tall to make the soil prep easier. For lawns needing total renovation, start with a glyphosate (Roundup application) followed by waiting at least 7-10 days to kill the lawn. Mow dead vegetation as short as mower goes to then aerate the lawn three times. Full seeding rate for tall fescue is 6-8 lbs./1,000 sq.ft., and 2-3 lbs. for Kentucky bluegrass. When overseeding into an existing lawn, the seeding rate can be cut in half. Drilling the seed is perhaps best, otherwise, use a drop seeder. Seed half the seed north/south and the other half east/west for even distribution. Then lightly rake to ensure seed to soil contact.



Example of using the GDD U2U tool (https://mygeohub.org/groups/u2u/purdue_gdd). Input your zip code or select your county. Then add your planting date and relative maturity to view a prediction for black layer and first 28F frost based on 30 year weather data. The tool is also showing that 2022 is above the 30 year GDD average. Right now it’s about 70 units higher in York and is predicted to continue on a higher trend as the season progresses. Selecting a comparison year (I chose 2012), it shows 2022 is tracking very similarly for the time being.

JenREES 8/7/22

The buildings and barns are now emptied, exhibits taken home and people are weary. But what remains

4-H youth award winners in Ag Hall and ID Contests at York Co. Fair

are the friendships, the connections re-established, the smiles, the gratitude, the pulling together, the awards given to the youth, the lessons learned. When I was in 4-H, I had no idea the amount of time that Ag Society, Extension staff, volunteers, my 4-H leaders or even my parents put into the fair. I could’ve said ‘thank you’ so much more! This was my 19th county fair on ‘the other side’ and it never ceases to amaze me the list of items to accomplish in order to ensure a successful fair. It takes many dedicated people to achieve all of this. I’m so grateful to the ag society, 4-H Council, Extension staff and board, FFA advisers, 4-H leaders, numerous volunteers, and parents that pull together each year to pull off county fairs! As I reflect, things that make my heart happy and make me smile are thinking about the number of wonderful people who help me in Ag Hall each year, the youth proudly wearing their medals around the fairgrounds on Thursday evening after the award’s ceremony in York Co., the crop plot for ag literacy in Seward Co., seeing the fairgrounds so busy in spite of the heat, watching people from across the counties reconnect, people pulling together in the midst of adversity, and the hard work that especially ag society puts into the fair behind the scenes to ensure that attendees enjoy the fairs. Thank you also to all of the sponsors! Grateful to all for making the York and Seward Co. fairs a success!

Produce not Ripening: Many have green tomatoes. My colleague, Scott Evans shared it’s due to the heat as temps over 90F prevent the plant from producing lycopene and carotene. You can bring mature green tomatoes indoors to ripen (sunlight isn’t needed) or you can wait for cooler weather for them to turn. How do you know if they are mature enough to bring indoors for ripening? Look for an off-green to a tinge of white on the shoulders of the fruit on the stem side on fruit that is the right size of for that variety. He said the same can be done for peppers that aren’t turning orange, red, or yellow. For cucumbers, fruit production declines with the heat but doesn’t impact maturity.

Spidermites: Just a reminder of this helpful article as the heat has really brought on spidermites in crops: https://go.unl.edu/9v6u. For those with gardens, spidermites are also impacting vegetable and flower plants. Symptoms include webbing and yellowish ‘stippling’ or tiny spotting on the leaves which eventually turn brown. You can take a white piece of paper and knock the leaves on it. If you see tiny insects the size of pinpoints moving, it’s most likely spidermites. Spraying plants with heavy streams of water ensuring each side of the leaf is hit helps knock them down. Proper watering (reducing drought stress) can help reduce spidermites. Those two things can drastically and naturally help with spidermites in garden settings. Insecticidal oils and some plant extract products can help. Just be sure to read the labels to ensure the product is safe for the plant you’re applying it to and never apply these products when temperatures are above 90F to avoid damage to the plant.

Irrigation: The heat is progressing plant and seed development in crops not replanted. Corn at dough needs 7.5” till maturity, 5” at beginning dent, 3.75” at ¼ milk, 2.25” at ½ milk, and 1” at ¾ milk. Soybean at beginning seed (R5) needs 6.5”, end of seed (R6) needs 3.5”, and 1.9” at leaves beginning to yellow.

Soybean Management Field Days are this week (Aug. 9-12)! Last year a team of us tried an approach of more discussion with attendees and this year we’re seeking to format more parts of the field days this way. Each location will be unique to the situations that area of the state is experiencing. Join us for discussions on insects, diseases, weed management, cover crop implementation, precision ag, economics, irrigation, and biodiesel. Closest locations are Blue Hill on Aug. 9 and Central City on Aug. 10. Hope to see many at one of the locations this week! More info. here: https://go.unl.edu/xukf.


From NebGuide G1871 Predicting the Last Irrigation of the Season

JenREES 8/29/21

Congratulations to all the 4-H youth who competed at the Nebraska State Fair this past weekend! The talent of our youth never ceases to amaze me. It’s also so encouraging to see life skills being developed such as public speaking, plant and insect identification, and the responsibility and care for animals.

Also so grateful to receive rain last night! And, that should finish up irrigation, or get it pretty close, for many that didn’t have late-planted crops. It’s really important to know your crop growth stage and to finish well. There’s some fields that are obviously over-irrigated with water standing after this last rain. On the flip side, it’s important to monitor soil moisture and crop growth stages to not stop too soon in spite of the long irrigation season and how tired farmers are. Several questions last week on ‘how’ to finish with irrigations and when physiological maturity occurs in soybeans.

Last irrigation: if you’ve been triggering irrigation during the growing season based on the recommended 35% depletion (average of 90 kpa on watermark sensors), you would have around 1.28” of moisture available in the top 4 feet for the plant in silt loam soils. A consideration for a step-wise approach I’ve used is this: Corn at ½ milk line needs around 13 days or 2.25” to finish the crop to maturity-so subtracting that from 1.28 would be 0.97”. As we consider allowing the soil moisture profile to deplete to 50-60% for recharge over the winter, a person could delay to 40-45% depletion (around 130 kpa average on watermarks) before triggering irrigation the first 7 days and then allow for 50% depletion (around 150 kpa average on watermarks) that last 7 days to finish irrigation for corn.

Soybean pods

Soybeans range from full seed (R6 end of seed enlargement) which needs 18 days or 3.5” of water; R6.5 (leaves yellowing/pod membranes still clinging to seed) which needs 10 days or 1.9” yet; or physiological maturity in which the pod membrane has separated from the seed and no more water is needed. The NebGuide, “Predicting the Last Irrigation of the Season”, speaks to yellowing leaves as the beginning of physiological maturity. But the question I kept getting last week was “how yellow is considered yellowing leaves?”. Perhaps a better indicator for today’s varieties would be to also look at the pods. Until the pods reach R7, physiological maturity, the plant is still utilizing water. At R7, at least 50% of the field plants will have one mature pod anywhere on the main stem. A mature pod is considered when the pod membrane no longer clings tightly to seeds in that pod (this is like black layer on corn where the nutrient/water supply is cut off from the kernel forming the black layer). So essentially, if you pull off a pod on the main stem, carefully open it up and look at the membrane surrounding the seed. If it’s still clinging tightly to it, it’s not quite mature. If you see separation of the membrane and seed, it’s considered mature and will no longer use water. There can be a range of pod stages on a plant, but between yellowing leaves and pod color changes, one can get a pretty good idea when R7 has occurred and no additional water is needed for the plants. The timing of the ending R stages in soybean is determined by planting date and varietal maturity group, though the date of R7 can be hastened if water stress and high temperatures prevail in August — something we are seeing this year.

Soybean stems typically turn brown shortly after R7 begins, though the stem can remain green longer due to a number of reasons, including fungicide use. The final soybean stage is R8, which occurs when 95% of pods have attained maturity and have a variety-dependent color of brown or tan. Seed moisture in a soybean pod dries down from 70% at R7 to about 13% at R8. This has shown to be around 12 days based on research, but can be faster or slower depending on solar radiation, humidity, temperature, wind speed and soil surface moisture.

So, for scheduling last irrigation in beans: if we use the same example of having 1.28” of available water at 35% depletion in silt loam soils in top four feet, soybeans would need 2.22” with 18 days to finish at R6 or 0.62” with 10 days to finish at R6.5. Using the stepwise approach, one could again allow the soil moisture to dry down to 40-45% the first week and 50-60% the second week. This also allows room to catch rain like we finally experienced last night.

Fall armyworms have been on the increase in alfalfa and pastures recently, so please be scouting as they can decimate a field quickly in the late larval stages. The threshold is 3 or more per square foot and they’re easier to control if the larvae are ¾ inch long or less. When they’re larger than this, they’re more difficult to control and choosing to harvest the alfalfa may be a better control method. Insecticide options include products with active ingredients including the pyrethroids, Alpha-cypermethrin (Fastac CS), Beta-cyfluthrin (Baythroid XL), cyfluthrin (Tombstone), Gamma-cyhalothrin (Proaxis, Declare), Lambda-cyhalothrin (numerous products), permethrin and Zeta-cypermethrin (Mustang Max), organophosphates, chloropyrifos (numerous products), and carbamates, carbaryl (Sevin) and methomyl (Lannate). 

Alfalfa defoliation by fall armyworms
Heavy defoliation of alfalfa by fall armyworms in a Nebraska field. Photo by Nathan Mueller

JenREES 8/15/21

Crop Update: It was great to see people at soybean management field days last week and to hear their experiences around cover crops and weed management! White mold in soybean was the primary question received last week. It was already heavy in some Butler and Polk county fields and has since increased in York county with calls over the weekend. I don’t get too concerned about managing different insects/pathogens/weeds as we have various management strategies for them. White mold, though, is a very difficult one to manage.

It’s a soil-borne disease in which the fungus survives in a black structure (sclerotia) that resembles mouse droppings. Rain events and irrigation during flowering can favor it along with extended dew periods and fog like we’ve experienced this year. If you see random plants in an area that are turning brown but remaining upright, look into the canopy and see if there’s white cottony fungal growth on the stem. You may also see the black sclerotia on either the outside or inside of the stems. It can continue to spread from plant to plant. Management right now includes managing soil moisture and irrigation. It’s important to keep the top portion of the soil as dry as possible (which I realize is practically impossible with heavy dews). When it comes to irrigation management, infrequent, heavy watering is better than light, frequent watering in heavy-textured soils. It’s a good idea to keep notes on areas of the field you’re seeing it this year so you’re aware of it the next time soybeans are planted.

Some cultural and crop rotation things going forward that may or may not fit for your operation, yet good to be aware of: No-till allows the sclerotia to die more quickly on the soil surface (within 2-3 years), whereas tillage allows sclerotia that are buried to survive longer. Also, as we think of cover crops and crop rotations, fields with a history of white mold should avoid rotations for 2-3 years with edible beans, field peas or other pulses, canola, turnips, radishes, sunflowers, or potatoes. Grass crops (corn and sorghum) and using small grains like wheat, rye, oats, etc. in rotation can help reduce the amount of sclerotia that survive. For more detailed information, check out: https://soybeanresearchinfo.com/soybean-disease/white-mold/.

Watch insects in soybeans regarding clipping pods; not seeing too much of that yet. Am seeing bean leaf beetles and grasshoppers in several counties. Saw woolly bear and green cloverworms in Nuckolls co. last week. I have no idea why Japanese beetles are still around for all who keep asking!

Have been seeing sudden death syndrome (SDS) for several weeks now. For those seeing it in fields where beans were treated with ILeVO or Saltro, the symptoms can still appear on beans treated with those products. In spite of this, from our on-farm research fields that had a history of SDS, the symptoms were less in the treated beans than the check treatment.

Mid-August brings a sigh of relief to many agronomists in getting closer to the end. I’m sure our farmers will be grateful to get to the end of irrigation season this year too. Many soybeans are at R5-R5.5 (can see seed development in pods on upper 4 nodes). At this point, flowering stops. Soybeans at R5 still need around 6.5” of moisture to finish. At R6 (full seed), that amount drops to 3.5”. We don’t talk about last irrigation yet for corn at milk stage. For fields at dough (R4), corn needs around 7.5” of moisture yet to finish and 5” at beginning dent.

Seward County Ag Banquet to be Held August 23: The Kiwanis Club of Seward partnered with SCCDP and Seward Co. Ag. Society will honor Seward County Ag Leaders on Monday, August 23, 2021 with our 53rd Annual Agriculture Recognition Banquet. The banquet begins with wine, cheese, and sausage at 5:30 p.m. and a prime rib meal at 6:30 p.m. Ag Promoter, Educator, and YouTube Sensation, Greg Peterson will be the evening’s entertainment. This event provides an excellent opportunity to recognize the importance of agriculture in Seward County. The evening will honor the Seward County farmers, producers, ag businesses and ag students for their continued economic contributions to our strong local agricultural economy. Due to COVID not allowing us to have a banquet in 2020, we will be honoring individuals and families selected in 2020 and 2021. Please contact Pam Moravec, Banquet Chair, 402-643-7748, or Shelly Hansen, 402- 643-3636 information about becoming a banquet sponsor. The cost to attend the banquet is $30.00 per person.  You can contact Pam or Shelly to reserve you seat. The Kiwanis Club of Seward will use the proceeds from the event to support the youth of Seward County through a variety of programs and events, including the Agronomy Academy.

Table from “Predicting Last Irrigation of the Season” NebGuide: https://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/pdf/g1871.pdf

JenREES 8-30-20

Grateful Nebraska held our State Fair this year! Seeing the youth competing, showcasing 4-H projects, and the excitement, smiles, and friends reconnecting from across the State this past weekend was heartwarming!

Received many calls about end of season irrigation this past week. Would encourage our farmers to finish the season well! You’ve been through much in another trying year and the past few weeks have been extra hard keeping up with irrigation, cleaning out bins, and getting combines ready in the heat. It can be tempting to just stop but would encourage you not to quit irrigating too soon, particularly on soybeans. Soybean maturity (R7) is defined when 50% (or all) of the field plants possess one mature pod (when the interior white membrane no longer clings to the seed). In most years, most leaves and pods will have changed color (from green to yellow-green or yellow) by this plant-based R7 date.

The heat has pushed crops along, but we’ve also had a great deal of humidity. Corn is moving the starch line slower in irrigated fields. That’s a good thing for fill and a harder thing regarding labor, time, and money. A lot of corn in this area is 1/3 milk and I just saw a few fields at ½ milk over the weekend. 

  • Corn at ¼ milk needs 3.75” (approximately 19 days to maturity)
  • Corn at ½ milk needs 2.25” (approximately 13 days to maturity)
  • Corn at ¾ milk needs 1” (approximately 7 days to maturity)
  • Soybean at full seed (R6) needs 3.5” (approx. 18 days to maturity)
  • Soybean with leaves beginning to yellow and pod membrane still attached to seeds (R6.5) needs 1.9” (approx. 10 days to maturity)

So, we’re potentially looking at one to two more irrigations yet for some of this corn and soybeans depending on the current status of your soil moisture profile, development of the crops in your particular fields, and any rain. It is recommended to allow that soil moisture profile to dry out to 50-60% depletion towards the end of the season to capture moisture in the off-season. So one way to consider this is a step-wise approach. If you typically irrigate at 35% soil moisture depletion and have around 2” left, the next week you could wait till a trigger of 40% depletion with the following week’s trigger around 50%. Again, this depends on your individual field’s soil moisture status and crop development after a taxing August.

Upon physiological maturity, corn ears begin drooping down. However throughout the area, corn ears are doing this that aren’t at ½ starch yet. These ears will black layer prematurely at the cost of yield. Dr. Bob Nielsen from Purdue shares that yield penalty can be as much as 40% at denting when there’s essentially no milk line visible and around 12% at half milk. So what causes this? The ear shank can collapse when there’s a lack of turgor pressure due to stress from the inability to keep up with crop water demand. August has been abnormally dry with warmer than average temperatures the past few weeks. Sometimes the ear shank also cannibalizes itself, similar to what can happen in stalks. Perhaps part of this can be from poor root development or lack of root development into deeper layers? In areas that have received less rain, perhaps deeper soil layers are drier in spite of having moisture in the top soil layer from irrigation? For those with conventional hybrids, European corn borer tunneling can also cause this type of collapse. There’s also some hybrids that I notice this happening more than others; perhaps genetics also plays a roll? That shank is the source for feeding the ear, so when it collapses, it weakens it. Keep an eye on ears in these fields as we approach harvest and consider getting at them sooner if possible.

Drooping corn ears in this irrigated field with green plant tissue above ears. This corn was getting close to 1/2 milk.
Photo by Dr. Jim Specht showing end of season soybean development stages. Notice the white membrane still attached to the seed in R6 stage and how it disconnects at R7 (maturity). Not all pods on the plant may be at R7 at the same time. R7 for all the plants in the field is considered when 50% (or all) of the field plants possess one mature pod (when the interior white membrane no longer clings to the seed). In most years, most leaves and pods will have changed color (from green to yellow-green or yellow) by this plant-based R7 date.
Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) has been observed for the past several weeks in fields. Thankfully it’s been minor this year compared to last year. It’s wise to take a soil sample for soybean cyst nematode (SCN) in these areas of the field to determine if you also have a nematode problem. The combination of the diseases has a synergistic impact on yield.

JenREES 8-16-20

Crop Updates: For the past week, crops used around 0.22” per day in the York area, around 0.20” as one goes east towards Ithaca and closer to 0.25” per day going south towards Harvard and Guide Rock (based on High Plains Regional Climate Center data posted on CropWatch).

As we think about water use the finish the year, the following come from the NebGuide Predicting the Last Irrigation of the Season found at: https://go.unl.edu/k74n:

  • Corn at Beginning Dent needs 5” of water (approximately 24 days to maturity)
  • Corn at ¼ milk needs 3.75” (approximately 19 days to maturity)
  • Corn at ½ milk (Full Dent) needs 2.25” (approximately 13 days to maturity)
  • Corn at ¾ milk needs 1” (approximately 7 days to maturity)
  • Soybean at beginning seed (R5) needs around 6.5” (approx. 29 days to maturity)
  • Soybean at full seed (R6) needs 3.5” (approx. 18 days to maturity)
  • Soybean with leaves beginning to yellow (R6.5) needs 1.9” (approx. 10 days to maturity)

Spent a lot of time last week looking at ear development in fields, particularly those impacted by the July 8th windstorm. Also appreciated a long conversation with John Mick with Pioneer on what he was seeing. For the most part, I’m seeing a lot of ‘normal’ ears that vary in the amount of tip back from lack of pollination and/or kernel abortion. Less commonly seen are ears with 3/4 husks. On plants that were pinched, continue to see messed up secondary and/or tertiary ears after the loss of the primary ear. On plants that bent and righted themselves, seeing a variety of things. Some are more ‘normal’ while other ears are much smaller that either didn’t pollinate well and/or had kernel abortion.

Last month, had mentioned a curious thing regarding how many hybrids are putting on multiple ears on the same ear shank, on the primary ear node. It’s far more than I’ve ever seen before. In sharing some observations with Dr.’s Tom Hoegemeyer and Bob Nielsen, they share it’s most likely a genetic X environmental response under excellent growing conditions or some other phenomena. As I continued to see these ears in fields and husk them back, for the most part, they don’t appear to be detrimental to the main ear, which is good. So it’s more of a curiosity than anything.

Many of us probably don’t examine ear shanks much in comparison to the ears. However, when one does look at ear shanks, one will observe they are similar to the corn stalks in that there are nodes and internodes. Each node also produces a leaf (in this case a husk leaf) instead of a collared leaf such as what happens on the main stalk. And each node (on stalk and on ear shank) has an axillary meristem which allows for ear development. Normally, there must be genetic or hormonal suppression so that only one main ear is formed on a shank at a stalk node. It’s not uncommon for us to observe an ear on different nodes of the stalk (ex. Nodes 12 and 13). What is more uncommon is to observe multiple ears on different nodes of the same ear shank, such as what is being observed this year.

Renovating Lawns: If your lawn is in need of repair, now through mid-September is a great time-perhaps the best time-to do so! This resource, Improving Turf in the Fall at https://go.unl.edu/rz9z is a great one to walk you through renovation depending on your situation. Some lawns can be easily improved by adding fertilizer this fall and/or overseeding. Some may need total renovation, which starts with a glyphosate (Roundup application) followed by waiting at least a week to then prepare the soil for planting.


Multiple ears on the same ear shank (with husk tissue on left and husked on right). Doesn’t appear to be impacting main ear in most fields I’ve seen these in. And, this is occurring on primary ear nodes and within fields (not just in endrows or in lower population areas).

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Pretty impressive brace root development on leeward side of plants that tried righting themselves.

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Ears from the plants with the brace roots from above photo. These are pretty decent with some tip back, but otherwise more ‘normal’. Other plants like this have ears that have poor kernel set.

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Seeing some ears with 3/4 husk.

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Bent plant that tried righting itself with a ‘zippered’ appearance to ear and poor pollination in addition to kernel abortion.

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Plant with loss of the primary ear showing multiple ears on the secondary and tertiary ear nodes.

More on Last #Irrigation

It’s been a long irrigation season thus far, but we are so thankful for irrigation in this part of the Country during this drought of 2012!  Questions continue to roll in regarding last irrigation for corn and soybeans.  Corn at 1/2 starch only needs 2.25″ to finish up so it’s important to know what your soil moisture status is.  For most irrigated producers, at 1/2 starch, you should be finished irrigating.  

For soybeans at R5 or beginning seed fill, you still need about 6.5″ to finish out the crop.  At R6 when the seeds are filling, that drops to 3.5″.  At R7 when you begin to see leaves yellowing, that is beginning maturity and you are finished irrigating.  They key is we don’t want to fill the profile going into the fall as we’d like to replenish the profile with fall and spring rains and winter snow.  However, with soybeans, it’s also critical not to stop irrigating too soon during seed fill.

Gary Zoubek, Extension Educator in York County sheds more light in the following video produced by UNL’s Market Journal.

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