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What to watch for in cornfields at this point in season

Corn Illustrated: This slideshow illustrates the different growth stages and problems that could appear thanks to the wide range of planting dates.

What will you find if you make herbicide applications or apply nitrogen in your cornfields in late June and early July? That could vary greatly depending on when you were able to plant corn. If you have a range of planting dates, it may even vary on your own farm.

Here are scenes you might begin to see in your fields. Some of these things are normal; others are signs that perhaps there is a problem. It may be a minor problem or some bigger issue.

Dave Nanda, director of genetics for Seed Genetics-Direct, observes cornfields regularly during the summer. He provides explanations for some of the things you might find.

Normal growth stages. The few fields planted in late April or early May could reach pollination and silking soon, depending upon hybrid maturity. More specifically, it depends on days to silking for the hybrid, Nanda says. Even hybrids rated at similar overall maturities may vary in how long it takes them to reach silking and pollination.

Fields planted in late May and early June, making up a good chunk of Indiana corn, will still be in vegetative stages. If not already, the growing point should soon be above the ground.

Insect and disease issues. Some pests such as armyworm may be at work in smaller corn. It’s still unclear whether rootworm will pose a threat in corn without the GMO corn borer trait, since corn may not have been emerged even if rootworm larvae hatched in the field.

Nutrient deficiencies. If corn is going to show signs of nutrient deficiency, it may be at this time of year. Some may be situational deficiencies caused by soil compaction or weather, which may clear up later. If the soil is truly deficient in sulfur or potassium, for example, those symptoms may persist.

To see photos of these and other possible scenarios, check out the slideshow.

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