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Crop Watch 2015: Now is time to track causes of minor imperfections in corn fields.

Tom Bechman 1

June 25, 2015

2 Min Read

The Crop Watch '15 field overall is off to a great start. Located upland and well away from rivers or creeks, flooding or even ponding hasn't been a concern. Planted on May 5, it has taken off and is now above knee-high. The growing point is above ground.

6/22: Midwest crops range from excellent to destroyed

It's actually difficult to find much wrong with the field at this point. If rains continue saturated soils could lead to nitrogen issues and yellowing of corn, but that hasn't happened yet.

However, no field is perfect, although some are much closer than others. We've looked hard and found a few blemishes here, but most are very minor.


Look in the picture with this article. It appears that the row in the center, while still dark green, is shorter than the two rows on either side of it. In fact the plants in the row were shorter.

Most agronomists say now is the time to figure out what might have caused anything that is not normal or desired in the field. It's a good reason to justify scouting fields at this point. Later in the season this visual picture may disappear, or at least be much harder to recognize that it is right now.

What caused this row to be shorter, at least where this picture was taken? We don't have a definite answer. There were tire tracks in the row area, so soil compaction and limited root growth could be a possibility. Roots weren't dug up in this case, but a few roots of a few small plants in other parts of the field were checked. They didn't tend to be as large and wholesome as on taller, healthier looking plants.

Crop Watch 6/19: Look for clues to under-performance in corn fields


If it is soil compaction, was it due to tillage, applying anhydrous or the planting operation? Is it just one row – as it appeared to be – not a pattern? If that's the cause, is it worth worrying bout in making or considering possible changes for the future?

That's where your judgment comes in!

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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