Agronomy Notebook

Seed treatments made a difference in 2012

By Ty Higgins. Ohio Ag Net

For soybean growers across the country, 2012 was a unique year. A drought plagued most of the Midwest and commodity prices soared. As growers begin to prepare for the next growing season, they must consider adjusting agronomic practices to increase their bottom line. In 2012, the use of seed treatments had quite a positive impact on both emergence and stand for the soybean crop.

“It looks like it is going to be the second or third driest growing season on record,” said Palle Pederson, Soybean Seedcare Technology Manager for Syngenta. “You know that when plants are under stress, especially in dry conditions, it is so critical to get uniform emergence to outperform the weeds and also to get good protection on the root system. Healthy roots in many cases means higher yields.”

Starting the season strong is critical to increasing yield potential and protecting the seedling from early-season stress is crucial for a successful season.… Continue reading

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Coaching high corn yields

By Matt Reese

With the last seconds ticking off the clock in overtime, the best player squares up behind the three-point line for the win, he shoots — nothing but net. Victory!

Sometimes, everything comes together for a buzzer-beater victory in crop fields, but that kind of success doesn’t happen by chance, which makes success in corn production similar in many ways to success on a basketball court, according to Fred Below, a professor of crop physiology at the University of Illinois.

“You have to plan for high yields. We put together a management system that consisted of five individual factors that we know are important for yield and we put them together in in a systems package,” Below said at a recent BASF meeting in northwest Ohio. “Since there were five, we made the analogy to a basketball team where we have five pro players that represent the enhanced management system against five high school players which represent the grower’s current standard.”… Continue reading

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Ear rots a health and harvest concern

By Matt Reese

There have been reports of farmers getting sick from cleaning combines without wearing dust masks. This could be linked to the inhalation of dust from a number of different ear rots that are being discovered in the Ohio corn crop.

Ear rots in fields can present health and safety issues during and following harvest. Corn harvest and grain handling become very important when ear rots are an issue.

AgriGold agronomist John Brien pointed out a number of potential ear rots in Ohio this fall to watch for in fields.


Fusarium kernel rot

Fusarium is caused by several different species of Fusarium and is the most common fungal disease on corn ears. The Fusarium pathogen overwinters very well on corn and grass residue and is more often seen in no-till, minimal-till and continuous corn fields. The Fusarium fungus thrives in environments that are hot and dry after pollination.… Continue reading

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Another look at a challenging 2012

By Kevin Cool, Beck’s Hybrids Seed Advisor, CCA

To say that 2012 has been challenging would be an understatement. As we get deeper into August it is becoming clearer how the hot and dry weather has affected the crops. You have probably read or heard a lot about the effects of heat and drought on corn pollination. Even with hot and dry weather early in the growing season if weather conditions during and around pollination are near normal, close to average yields can still be obtained. This is why when corn was knee high and we were dry, I felt we could still have a good year. The most critical time would be at pollination.

Unfortunately for many of us, the drought has persisted not only through pollination, but beyond. Just as equally, if not more

important, is that extreme heat has come along with it. During pollination many of us were breaking temperature records with ease.… Continue reading

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Assessing corn after a tough early growing season

By Jeff Rectenwald, Technical Agronomist for Monsanto

Recent strong storms in Ohio brought high winds and some much needed rainfall in several parts of the state. The rainfall was critical in many parts of Ohio where the corn and soybeans were showing strong signs of drought and heat stress. Since April 1, many parts of Ohio have received 5 to 10 inches of rainfall, which is 3 to 4 inches below the 5-year average. Growing Degree Days (GDD’s) for the same period have accumulated 1,200 to 1,300 units, which is 175 t0 200 GDD’s ahead of normal. We use the GDD’s to track the overall progress of corn development. I like to consult the numbers weekly to track the progress of rainfall and temperature in the state. You can also track these at the Ohio page on the National Agricultural Statistics Service website.


Why is my corn short?

Corn planted earlier in the season tends to be shorter than later planted corn because the daylength is shorter April 1 compared to May 1.

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Foliar fungicides in corn

By Kirk Reese, Agronomy Research Manager for DuPont/Pioneer

The use of foliar fungicides in corn production has become a more common practice in recent years. This is largely due to the increased value of the crop and the subsequent interest in protecting or enhancing grain or forage yield. There are factors where the value of corn yield can be enhanced by a foliar fungicide application, which we will discuss in this agronomy update.

During years 2007 to 2011, 475 on-farm trials conducted by Pioneer have shown an average 7-bushel grain yield increase in the presence of a foliar fungicide compared to an untreated check when applied between tassel emergence and brown silk. The economic benefit, or the point where the value of the yield increase was greater than the cost of the fungicide application, occurred 80% of the time when calculated at a corn commodity price of $4 per bushel and application cost of $28 per acre.… Continue reading

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Minimizing herbicide injury for crops

By Jeff Rectenwald, Asgrow/Dekalb agronomist

Post-emergence herbicide tank mixtures are an important element of integrated weed management of tough-to-control broadleaf weeds in corn. Environmental conditions, such as those that have favored development of thin cuticles on the leaf surfaces of corn this spring, influence the absorption of post-emergence herbicides and potential crop tolerance. Warm, humid conditions promote rapid absorption while cool conditions may slow crop development, herbicide uptake and crop selectivity. Crops under stress may not metabolize herbicides quickly enough to avoid crop injury. Therefore, it is important to take appropriate steps to minimize the risk for injury.


Basics of leaf cuticles

The leaf cuticle changes during early corn development. From emergence to V4, under normal conditions, corn leaves have crystalline deposits of wax on the cuticle, which reduce herbicide spray retention and leaf wet-ability by trapping air under the spray droplets. There is rapid change in the cuticle from V5 to V8 as the wax becomes a smooth film on the leaves.… Continue reading

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Watch for seedling blights in corn

By John Brien, AgriGold agronomist

The spring of 2012 is shaping up to be another planting season to remember. Late March was warm and beautiful and got a lot of growers excited about planting corn, then April hit. The first portion of April was decent but after April 10, the temperatures were less than ideal. While the soil conditions were good in most areas, the less than ideal soil temperatures kept most growers wondering when to plant corn. Unfortunately the cool to cold soil temperatures were, in fact, a major hindrance in corn growth.

While most corn planted in Mid-April emerged, that emergence took 2 to 4 weeks and once it emerged, the growth has been less than ideal. The latest concern on the corn planted on April 17 through April 20 is a large and often devastating infestation of seedling blights. Seedling blights is a generic term for soil-borne pathogens such as Pythium and Fusarium attacking the struggling corn plant.… Continue reading

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2012 off to a good start compared to 2011

By Matt Hutcheson, CCA, Associate Agronomist, Seed Consultants, Inc.

What a difference a year makes! According to a recent USDA crop progress report, as of May 20, 94% of Ohio’s corn crop was planted and 74% of the state’s soybeans were in the ground — a big difference compared to last year when almost nothing had been planted at that point. This year’s planting progress is also well ahead of Ohio’s 5 year average. Some growers planted corn as early as late March and some were sidedressing nitrogen in early May. The unseasonably warm weather in early March created favorable conditions for field work and had farmers in their fields earlier than normal.

It is a common understanding that early planting will provide corn with a higher yield potential; however, planting too early can leave plants vulnerable to adverse weather conditions, such as below freezing temperatures. Some of the earlier planted corn in Ohio was stunted by frost.… Continue reading

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Now is a good time to evaluate plant stands

Jeff Rectenwald
, CCA, Territory Agronomist for Asgrow/Dekalb

Now is a good time to be evaluating corn and soybean stands for plant populations, inter-row plant spacing, and seedling plant health. It takes about 100 growing degree units (GDU) before corn will emerge. While in the field, be on the lookout for black cutworms and bean leaf beetles.

When scouting fields, I like to take a piece of rope 17.4 inches long for determining corn plant populations, a hoop 28.2 inches in diameter for soybean populations, a tile spade for quickly digging plants out of the row, and a bucket with a lid and some water for washing off roots and looking for disease. These are just a few of the scouting tools that can be used for diagnostics in the field.

Evaluating plant emergence and viable plant population shortly after emergence is important for future management decisions. If population is greatly reduced, replanting may be justified and should be accomplished as soon as possible.… Continue reading

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Wheat is at a critical disease stage

By Dave Scheiderer, Integrated Ag Services

Now is the time to take a close look at your wheat crop. Most of the wheat in central Ohio is nearing complete flag leaf emergence (Feekes 9). This is the critical growth stage to determine the need for a fungicide application to control leaf diseases. Integrated Ag Services (IAS) consultants have been scouting several wheat fields, and so far we’ve seen very low disease pressure. Septoria leaf has been found on some of the lower leaves and Powdery Mildew has been found in some over seeded areas, such as overlaps on point rows, but these areas are very limited. In general, we don’t think a lot of fungicide will need to be sprayed on wheat in central Ohio.

For those farmers concerned about grain quality and yield reductions caused by Fusarium Head Scab, the timely use of a fungicide like Prosario can reduce the incidence of this disease.… Continue reading

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Uneven corn emergence issues

By Jeff Rectenwald, Monsanto territory agronomist

Several factors can contribute to uneven corn emergence and growth early in the season. Replanting is not often justified due to uneven stands; however, understanding why uneven emergence occurred can help minimize the risk in the future. Additionally, consideration should be given to how uneven early growth can affect the implementation of some management tools the rest of the growing season.

Potential causes of uneven growth:

• Soil Moisture Variability in Seed Zone — a corn kernel imbibes approximately one third of its weight in water during germination. When kernels within a row are exposed to different amounts of soil moisture, the rate of germination and emergence can vary from plant to plant, resulting in uneven emergence and early growth, or possibly stand loss. Small differences in soil moisture within a row can lead to considerable differences in germination and emergence. Planting deeper to reach uniform soil moisture, managing residue to minimize trash getting wedged into the seed trench, and reducing additional loss of soil moisture can help achieve more uniform emergence and early growth.… Continue reading

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White mold resources

A new online resource called is now available for soybean growers seeking timely information and disease prevention strategies to stay one step ahead of white mold this year.

Developed by MANA Crop Protection, growers can utilize this exclusive online resource and enroll for Soybean White Mold Weekly Updates by accessing URL address, or by simply typing into their Internet browser.

Dave Feist, Project Development Leader for MANA Crop Protection, said the new online resource was created to deliver highly relevant information to soybean growers seeking disease management insight behind the complexities of white mold.

“Growers who have soybean in high alert areas for white mold are encouraged to utilize the information to gain an understanding of the disease’s profile and proliferation trends, ways to minimize spreading between fields, evaluate its economic impact on yields, and learn preventative approaches to minimize risk,” he said. “Also, growers can opt to receive a weekly email update which will give additional insights during the season, along with regional planting progress and outbreak reports.”… Continue reading

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Assessing frost injury in corn

By Mike Kavanaugh, AgriGold Agronomy Manager


As the first significant cold front of the 2012 growing season passes through, many

questions are arising concerning the fate of planted corn in the case of near or below freezing temperatures. With such a warm, early spring, many acres have been planted throughout the central and southern Corn Belt.

The key through the frost evaluation process is to understand the growth pattern of these small corn plants and give it at least a week for proper evaluation. Obviously, the bigger the corn is, the more susceptible it is to freeze injury. This is true because the depth of the growing point becomes shallower within the soil surface as the plant continues to grow. Keep in mind that the growing point or crown is located at approximately .75-inch below the soil surface, providing that planting depth itself was below 3/4 inch. The growing point does not actually reach the soil surface until the plant reaches the V5-V6 growth stage.… Continue reading

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Tips to maximize planting

By John Brien, AgriGold agronomist

Planting corn is a race against time — trying to cover all of the acres in a very narrow window. Because of the time crunch, planting is often seen as just another operation that needs to be completed quickly, when in all actuality, planting is the single most important operation to achieve a bumper corn crop. Planting is not just about putting seed into the ground, planting is about providing the proper conditions to achieve an even stand with a quick and uniform emergence. The key to planting success is the corn planter.

Why is so much emphasis put on the planter? Because once a corn seed is planted, there is very little to nothing that can be done to fix the errors of planting. Therefore, properly planting the crop the first time is essential. The following is a list of some last minute tips to help get the corn crop off to a great start.… Continue reading

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Get corn plants off to a good start

By Kirk Reese, Agronomy Research Manager, Pioneer Hi-Bred International

When considering corn planting for 2012, one certainty is that the growing season will be different than past growing seasons. However, there are some tactics, including planting at the proper depth, that will help overcome weather challenges in the crop.

Corn planting depth is easily measured shortly after emergence. Taking care to dig up as much of the plant as possible, the distance between the growing point, also known as the first node or crown, and the soil surface is usually three-quarters of an inch deep when planted at recommended planting depths. Measuring the mesocotyl, the area between the seed and the growing point, then adding three-quarters inch, will determine planting depth in the soil. Under ideal conditions, corn can emerge in a week to 10 days. Under more stressful conditions, such as wet soils or extended periods of temperatures below 50 degrees, corn may take up to three weeks to emerge.… Continue reading

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Anhydrous injury in corn

By John Brien, AgriGold agronomist

Each year, many corn growers that use spring applied, preplant ammonia find some degree of anhydrous ammonia injury within their corn fields. Severe injury can cause significant germination problems or root pruning, which leads to stand loss or uneven stands, which can ultimately lead to significant yield losses.  

As the spring of 2012 begins, much of the Corn Belt has found itself putting on a lot of ammonia and considering planting very soon. This means that the time between anhydrous ammonia applications and planting will most likely be very minimal in many cases. Injury from anhydrous ammonia can be easy to diagnose but somewhat difficult to prevent. Below are some precautions and preventative measures to take to avoid anhydrous injury in corn.

The first step in preventing anhydrous ammonia injury in corn is to understand how anhydrous moves in the soil. When anhydrous ammonia is applied to the soil, it can disperse approximately 3 to 4 inches away from the injection point. … Continue reading

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Fighting winter annuals

By John Brien, CCA, AgriGold regional agronomist


The Eastern Corn Belt is experiencing one of the warmest winters on record. Temperatures have consistently been 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for most of the winter months, with some locations recording 60+ degree temperatures in the month of February. The warm weather throughout the winter could lead to a lot of unwanted situations in 2012. One of the unintended situations caused by warmer than normal temperatures is the potential for high infestations of winter annuals.

Winter annuals are unique in that they grow during the cool times of the year when other annual weeds become dormant. The life cycle of winter annuals begin anytime between late summer and early spring. The newly sprouted weeds overwinter as small seedlings and then when the weather begins to warm in the spring they continue to grow, flower, put on seeds and then die. Winter annuals typically grow close to the ground for protection against cold winter days.… Continue reading

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A last look at 2011 Ohio corn yields

By John Brien, CCA, AgriGold regional agronomist

Corn yields are the holy grail of corn production, high yields are worthy of bragging rights at the coffee shop and low yields are all the more reason not to leave the shop during the winter. All growers strive for the highest yields possible, but after anytime of farming a grower quickly realizes that we are not in total control of the entire yield equation.

2011 corn production proved to be quite an adventure no matter where you lived. The weather was challenging early to almost the entire state and caused major delays and challenges to planting. To some growers the weather continued to be challenging all year long, while to other growers the weather later in the growing season was extremely rewarding. The old adage of “rain makes grain” held true again in 2011. As the spring of 2012 quickly approaches, a final look at how the 2011 corn crop makes a nice bookend to a year no one will forget.… Continue reading

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Will Goss's Wilt be a challenge in 2012?

By John Brien, CCA, AgriGold Regional Agronomist

Goss’s Wilt is one of the most devastating and feared leaf diseases a corn grower can experience.

There have been several “reports” of finding Goss’s wilt in Ohio corn fields in 2011, but no confirmed cases to AgriGold’s knowledge. All the cases have been a case of misidentification. Even though there are no cases of Goss’ Wilt in Ohio, nor does AgriGold believe there will be for several years, some background information and how to identify the pathogen should help extinguish any false rumors and/or fears.

Goss’s Wilt was first observed in Nebraska more than 40 years ago. For much of that time, the disease seemed to be content in Nebraska but beginning in 2008 it began to march eastward into Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. Since that time Goss’s Wilt has continued to grow exponentially in the I-states, most notably Iowa and Illinois.… Continue reading

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