Critical stages to scout your corn fields

Corn needs a lot of tender loving care throughout the growing season and to raise a successful crop, it needs special attention during the following critical stages:

• At seedling emergence, young plants face many hurdles such as nutrient deficiencies, seedling diseases like Pythium and Stewart’s bacterial blight, slugs and insects like black cutworms. Adequate stand establishment is crucial for a good crop.

• At V3-V4 stage, make sure that weeds are in control. Apply post-emergence herbicides, if necessary. Even small weeds can affect yield.

• At V6-V8 stage, be sure to side-dress with nitrogen before the plants are too tall, if you are going to apply additional nitrogen. Check for deficiency of nutrients like sulfur, magnesium, zinc and other micronutrients.

• Pollination is the next most critical stage. Make sure that insects like Japanese beetles, western corn rootworm beetles are not clipping the silks. Use insecticides if needed to control these pests.

• Make sure diseases like Northern Corn Leaf Blight, Southern Leaf Blight, Rusts, and Gray Leaf Spot are not appearing near the ear-leaf or above. Use foliar fungicides, if needed.

• After the grain fill period, between pollination and physiological maturity, check for ear rot diseases like Diplodia and Giberrella which can also cause stalk rot. Leaf disease, if present, can predispose the plants to stalk rot organisms.

• Check for black layer near physiological maturity so you can plan which fields to harvest first. A good corn crop requires a lot of TLC. Good scouting can pay big dividends.

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