By Matthew Wilde
Progressive Farmer Crops Technology Editor
Watching corn quickly grow in late May solidified Neal Wikner’s plans to continue a family tradition of using starter fertilizer.
His father, Clark, first put nutrients near corn seed during planting about 25 years ago. He wanted to give young plants a boost because cold and wet soils — a common early-spring occurrence in the Upper Midwest — slows root development and nutrient uptake.
Persistent rain this year delayed corn and soybean planting, and emergence throughout much of the Corn Belt by several weeks, according to government crop reports. Plant development also fell behind.
It took the Wikners, who farm near Farmersburg, Iowa, five days to plant 580 acres of corn in mid-May. Emergence occurred in about 10 days because of cool, wet conditions. Corn was slightly yellow initially, but stands were uniform. Plants quickly turned a healthy dark green and reached the V4 to V6 stage by the third week in June with no signs of stress.