Agronomy Notebook

Managing your crop’s yield potential 

By Mitch Greve, Agrigold agronomist – Ohio

Managing your crop’s yield potential starts with having patience and a detail-oriented plan heading into planting. Furthermore, as the planting season comes to an end it is essential to spend time in the field with the crop. Scouting corn and soybeans from emergence to harvest can help manage the crop’s yield potential. Monitoring weather patterns and a keen eye can help write your yield story. 

A yield story can be broken down into four chapters; emergence scoring, nutrient deficiencies, disease and heat stress, and late season plant health. 

Emergence score and plant vigor 

Within the first few weeks of planting corn and soybeans it is ideal to scout for emergence and plant vigor. Early season scouting will inform how many plants emerged as compared to intended stand, which we refer to as emergence percentage. Having a high emergence percentage is the best-case scenario, but sometimes weather, and biological or mechanical implications can lower that percentage.… Continue reading

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Corn leaf diseases to watch for in 2022

By Dave Nanda, Ph.D. Director of Genetics for Seed Genetics Direct
It is almost impossible to develop resistance to all of the prevalent diseases while developing new varieties. The disease organisms are constantly changing and by the time breeders develop new varieties resistant to certain disease organism, the pathogens mutate and change. In order to maximize the potential yield of crops, farmers need to also protect them from diseases. Fungicides is one way to do so. 

Dave Nanda

Depending on the spring weather and past experience, there are leaf diseases which might develop and dominate in July and August, most of the which are caused by the fungal organisms.

Northern corn leaf blight (NCLB) can get started from the residue of previous crops which may provide the initial inoculum and is further spread by airborne spores. It likes cool, wet and humid weather. NCLB produces long, cigar shaped lesions which are grayish to tan in color.… Continue reading

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Be sure to monitor soil temperatures

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc. 

Soil temperature is a critical part of successful corn and soybean germination. For seed to begin the germination process, soil temps must be at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Prior to planting early in the spring, it is important to monitor soil temperatures and wait to plant until soil warms up enough to promote quick germination and emergence. Soil temperatures should be in the 50s and expected to continue to rise.

It is also important to keep in mind that soil temperatures can fluctuate relatively quickly. For example, soil temps in southern Ohio were in the mid 40s Wednesday, April 20. With warmer weather and sunshine they had climbed to above 60 degrees on Saturday, April 23. Although soil temps have warmed up enough to plant due to a weekend of 80 degree weather, keep in mind soil temps can drop below 50 just as quickly if we have a cold rain event.… Continue reading

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Agronomic resiliency in 2022

By John Schoenhals, Pioneer Field Agronomist, Northern Ohio

Resiliency is defined as the ability to recover quickly from difficulties or “toughness.” Lately, this term has been used quite often. Electric grid resiliency is used following hurricanes and storm outbreaks. Economic resiliency is discussed following the COVID-19 pandemic and mandated shutdowns. The resilience of underdogs competing against juggernauts in March madness basketball has been another recent topic.  

John Schoenhals, Pioneer Field Agronomist in northern Ohio

In 2022, “resiliency” is the goal of every farmer planting or tending a crop. From sky-high fertilizer prices to pesticide availability to tar spot concerns to equipment and parts inventories, the buildup to the start of the 2022 growing season has been filled with remarkable, unparalleled, and in some cases, downright concerning headlines in the ag industry. In addition, global unrest and lingering weather concerns have led to historic volatility in the price of commodities. 

Against this backdrop, resilient growers will be those who are prepared with a plan, surrounded by trusted advisors, and willing to adapt to challenges.  The… Continue reading

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Managing for a high yielding 2022

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, product manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

With spring planting right around the corner, it is a good time to discuss key management practices and the impact they have on the growing season. You may have heard that the crop starts the season in the bag with its highest yield potential. That yield potential can be lost due to several factors throughout the season. While many factors leading to yield loss are out of our control (drought, disease development, insect pressure, etc.), it is important to properly manage the factors that can be controlled.  

Matt Hutcheson, product manager for Seed Consultants, Inc., talks to customers at a field day.

With the presence of herbicide-resistance weeds and the growing number of herbicide trait options, it is increasingly important for farmers to be well informed and meticulous in their weed control decisions. Knowing what weeds are present and which herbicides most effectively control them is a must.… Continue reading

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Determining the right corn plant population

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc. 

One factor that greatly influences corn yields is plant population. Determining the correct plant population may take some effort, however, it is a critical factor that every corn grower needs to get right in order to maximize yields. Recent research performed by universities and seed companies has determined that that yields increase significantly as populations are increased up to a point of 34,000 seeds per acre. In general, yields begin to level off at planting rates around rates 36,000 seeds per acre. Recent studies have also determined that even in low yield environments planting rates of 31,000 seeds per acre maximize yield and economic return. In very productive, 250 bushel per acre yield environments, research results show that higher populations (38,000+ seeds per acre) maximize yields. Breeding and advances in genetics have improved the modern corn plant’s ability to yield at higher populations when compared to corn hybrids from the past.… Continue reading

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Planting depth will critical to achieving high yields in 2022

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc. 

Planting is one of the most critical management practices of the year because it sets the stage for the entire growing season. There are several key aspects of planting, one of which is planting depth. Invariably, every year Seed Consultants’ agronomists come across problems that are caused by variable and improper planting depth. Planting depth is critical because it impacts germination, seedling development, crop root development, emergence, and ultimately crop yields.

For corn, seed needs to be planted no shallower than 1.5 inches below the soil surface. Typically, the suggested range is 1.5 to 2 inches, however, some studies and growers have seen success at depths up to 3 inches. It is important to make sure that corn is planted into adequate soil moisture for germination. In addition, corn needs to be at least 1.5 inches deep for the proper early development the root system.… Continue reading

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Lessons learned from the 2021 growing season

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

Every new growing season presents its own set of challenges and gives growers an opportunity to learn and improve their management practices, 2021 was no different. From the wet weather and adverse conditions early in the season to diseases and agronomic problems there is a great deal to be learned from this year.

One critical management practice that 2021 highlighted is the timing of planting operations. In many areas of the eastern Corn Belt there were large rain events that included cold temperatures and created adverse growing conditions for seeds and seedlings. The first 24 to 48 hours a seed is in the ground are critical to seedling development. In that time period the seed is taking in moisture and beginning the germination process. When planted directly before a cold/wet weather event, seeds are at risk of imbibitional chilling injury. Agronomists and farmers observed chilling injury in corn and soybean fields that resulted in seedling damage, seedling death, and reduced stands.… Continue reading

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Maximizing weed control amidst supply challenges

By Luke Schulte, Beck’s Hybrids

As harvest wraps up, it’s natural to want to take some time to recoup before jumping immediately into decision-making mode for the coming season. However, due to the uncertain availability of several post-emergence herbicides, an increased sense of urgency may be warranted to ensure your supply and formulate a plan to keep your soybean acres weed-free in 2022.

Over the last 18 months, many supply challenges have surfaced across multiple industries. The agricultural industry is currently facing many potential challenges heading into the 2022 planting season. While some herbicide shortages may be speculative, others appear more certain. Due to their broad-spectrum activity, glyphosate and glufosinate-containing (Liberty) herbicides are two of the most widely used herbicides on the market. These reasons, amongst other factors, have led to supply concerns with these herbicides as we look ahead to 2022.

Making the most of the glyphosate and glufosinate supply

Fall Applications (weather permitting)

Where possible, avoid using glyphosate this fall.… Continue reading

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Post-harvest field condition considerations

By Mitch Greve, AgriGold agronomist — Ohio

Corn and soybean harvest is in full swing throughout Ohio and as growers race towards completion it is imperative to be simultaneously thinking ahead towards next year. The most important question when exiting a field post-harvest is, what condition did I leave this field in? No-tillage, fall tillage, and cover cropping are the main practices a grower uses to help manage their fields in the fall. Irrespective of a growers management strategy, the importance lies in creating a level seed bed for spring to induce good seed to soil contact which promotes uniform seed emergence. 

No-tillage is when a grower leaves the fallow ground untouched post-harvest. A no-till management practice promotes better soil structure with larger macropores which can beneficially influence water and nutrient availability throughout the heat stress portions of the growing season. However, wetter springtime soil conditions coupled with cooler soil temperatures creates a more conducive environment for early season seedling blights on heavier or untiled ground.… Continue reading

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Tar spot in Ohio: What we know and what we’re learning in 2021

By John Schoenhals, Pioneer Field Agronomist, Northern Ohio

Tar spot is a relatively new corn disease for Ohio, as well as the rest of the United States. It is caused by a fungus and appears on corn leaves (as well as husks under severe cases) as small, raised black bumps that cannot be rubbed off.

John Schoenhals, Pioneer Field Agronomist in northern Ohio

Tar spot has historically been present in corn-growing regions of Mexico and Central/South America. These areas are often at higher elevations, with a similar climate to much of Ohio and the Midwest Corn Belt. Tar spot was found in the U.S. for the first time in 2015 in Illinois and Indiana. The disease was first found in Ohio in 2018, and has been found in much of the state in 2021.

Periods of moderate temperatures (60-75 degrees F), high humidity (above 85%), and leaf wetness exceeding 7 hours (heavy dews, foggy mornings, frequent rainfall) present the most ideal environment for disease development.… Continue reading

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Understanding gibberella ear mold, minimizing vomitoxin

By Luke Schulte, Beck’s Hybrids

Fall provides the culmination of the growing season and often the reward for our year-long efforts. However, ear molds and poor grain quality dampen our enthusiasm and make for some lingering challenges if not dealt with properly both at harvest and prior to grain storage.

Some common ear molds, such as diplodia, are not known to produce mycotoxins. However, aspergillus, fusarium, and gibberella ear mold often result in the production of harmful mycotoxins. While aspergillus and fusarium are less common, gibberella is all too often present within some fields at harvest. Gibberella ear mold can lead to vomitoxin present in the grain, which can cause health problems in both humans and livestock, particularly swine. 

What causes gibberella ear mold and why does it occur?

Gibberella ear mold is caused by the fungus fusarium graminearum. This fungus is present to some degree in almost all fields but is especially abundant in corn following corn or wheat and fields with a history of gibberella.… Continue reading

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Green stem syndrome

By Matt Hutcheson, Seed Consultants, Inc.

One issue that impacts soybean harvest in the eastern Corn Belt at some level each year is green stem syndrome. Green stem syndrome could be larger issue for the 2017 harvest because of latter planting dates in many areas. When green stem syndrome occurs, stems and leaves can remain green after pods have matured. As a result, while pods and seeds are mature and dry enough to be harvested, harvest operations can be slowed as combines have more difficulty dealing with stems and leaves that are still green. In addition to creating harvest delays, green stem syndrome can increase fuel consumption and result in shattering losses if growers delay harvest until stems have fully matured.

The occurrence of green stems varies from year-to-year and can be affected by several factors, such as: 
• Viral infections 
• Insect feeding 
• Late planting 
• Drought stress 
• Application of fungicides

Successful management of green stem syndrome requires management practices that include timely planting, establishing adequate plant stands, irrigation, and controlling insects/pests.… Continue reading

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Assessing SDS and SCN

By Grant Collier, MS, Regional Sales Agronomist, Ohio, Stine Seed Company

It’s another growing season in the great state of Ohio, and with that came another exceptionally wet spring. Among the many pathogens present, sudden death syndrome (SDS), is once again reminding us why it is in the top two most destructive soybean diseases in the U.S. The moisture, in combination with the cooler periods of weather, created prime periods for fungal infection. When environmental conditions are favorable, infection can occur early in the growing season. When exposed to these conditions, early planted soybeans are most susceptible to infection due to an extended infection period. Unfortunately, soybean cyst nematode (SCN) is the most destructive soybean disease and is often found in conjunction with SDS. Though a quick cure does not currently exist, growers do not need to hit the panic button. Here are a few tips to help control SDS. 

Grant Collier, MS, Regional Sales Agronomist, Ohio, Stine Seed Company

Growers will want to target soybean varieties with some partial resistance to SDS.… Continue reading

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Get out to a field day this fall

By Todd Jeffries, Vice President, Seed Genetics Direct

Todd Jeffries, Seed Genetics Direct

Last year, many companies chose not to host events. This year, many companies are returning to somewhat normal circumstances and holding pre-harvest field days again, which is a welcome change. Field days have a lot of valuable learning opportunities for growers, such as:

  1. What’s new? The turnover for new hybrids is now quicker than ever thanks to double-haploid breeding and CRISPR technology. Some groan at the high turnover rates of new hybrids and genetics, but the yield increases over the past decade or two are real, and that’s what’s driving the new hybrids hitting the market so quickly. Field days provide the opportunity for growers to see and touch many of the new hybrids and varieties that have come out in the past year. Growers can learn about each one individually and compare it with what they are currently growing.
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The benefits of late-season scouting

By Roy A. Ulrich, Dekalb and Asgrow Technical Agronomist in Southern Ohio

Many of the crops in the state are advanced enough in their growth stages, that no further management decisions or applications will impact yield, except for harvest timing decisions. However, much of the final yield is still to be determined by the previous management decisions and the weather over the coming weeks. Just because our management influence has ceased for this growing season, it doesn’t mean that scouting can’t positively impact future growing seasons. 

            Nitrogen management is one of the things that late season scouting can help determine, if making any changes to next year’s nitrogen program should be considered. The tell-tale yellowing of the lower leaves starting at the tip of the leaf angling in towards the mid rib, is an indication of a corn plant remobilizing nitrogen from lower in the plant towards the ear for grain fill.… Continue reading

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Building yield all the way to black layer

By John Brien, Eastern Agronomy Manager for AgriGold

Raising corn is a complex and challenging endeavor no matter the year or the environment, but one of the most challenging parts of raising corn is ensuring the corn crop is producing yield all the way to black layer. Why is this so important? Because at dent stage, also known as R5, 65% of the dry weight of the kernel still needs to be accumulated. That 65% could easily equate to 20% to 25% of the final yield or 40 to 60 bushels of grain.

John Brien

The adage that once the corn reaches dent the yield is made and nothing can hurt it is a false statement. In corn production, agronomists talk about the length of grain fill and the longer a corn plant can accumulate dry matter, the higher the yield (not potential, actual yield). The extra time correlates directly to the importance of the R5 stage.… Continue reading

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Managing crop stress to maximize yields

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Product Manager, Seed Consultants, Inc.

Matt Hutcheson

The 2021 growing season has already provided growers with several challenges. Learning from these challenges and making sound management decisions throughout the remainder of the growing season will be critical to achieving top-end yield potential. 

One important management practice that was highlighted this spring was timing of crop planting in relationship to weather. Agronomists and university experts occasionally discuss the timing of planting and the importance of the first 36 to 48 hours a seed is in the ground. The first 36 to 48 hours a seed is in the ground is a critical period of water uptake where the seed is sensitive to temperature extremes. In many areas we saw fields planted immediately before a cold rain even and seed/seedlings that exhibited imbibitional injury.

In areas where cold rain/snow events occurred this spring, observed soil temperatures dropped from the mid 50s to the lower 40s overnight.… Continue reading

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Inputs to consider in 2021

By Luke Schulte, Beck’s Hybrids

The casinos of Las Vegas were not built upon the hopes of the “house” winning more than the gambling participants. While farming is a gamble considering the unknown of weather, having a more predictable response to specific inputs is always beneficial. 

Beck’s Practical Farm Research (PFR) team has evaluated hundreds of products and practices over the years. In an effort to provide farmers with a list of products and practices that resulted in the greatest consistency of ROI, Beck’s developed their PFR Proven designation in 2017. For a product or practice to earn the distinction of PFR Proven, it needs to have been tested a minimum of 3 years, must provide a positive yield gain each year, and it must average a positive return on investment over that 3-year period.

June/July PRF proven products

Humika (Sidedress Nitrogen Additive) 

Humic substances, those containing carbon like humic acids, provide several benefits to both the soil and plants.… Continue reading

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Assessing stands, weeds and nutrients

By Roy A. Ulrich, Technical Agronomist for Dekalb/Asgrow for Southern Ohio

Planting corn and soybeans in the spring of 2021 in the state of Ohio was once again wracked with the inevitable decisions of when to plant and when not to plant. Countless hours were spent staring into those crystal balls of smart phone weather apps that we all seem to praise or curse depending on the outcome or the forecast. This planting season has been stretched out over a two-month time span, with a wide variety of planting and growing conditions that accompanied this spring’s weather pattern. This has left us with fields that have a wide variety of strengths and weaknesses in the crop we have established in the field. While this may not be the ideal situation, this crop is far from being a success or failure and is a long way from being in the bins. So, we need to take stock of what we have and don’t have within our fields and how can we maximize the crop we have established and minimize the environmental stresses it faces later this growing season.… Continue reading

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