Initial yield reports look promising for Minnesota corn and soybean farmers, says regional agronomist Mark Glady. September heat and winds pushed both corn and soybean crops into physiological maturity, and harvest is officially underway for soybeans. Early forecasts predict average to slightly above-average yield totals for both corn and soybeans. He reports that corn reached black layer in most of Minnesota by mid-September, and combines are either rolling or will be soon.
According to Glady, one of the highest-priority management issues facing Minnesota farmers this year is stalk rot in corn, which can deteriorate stalk standability and reduce yields. Rot can result from in-season management decisions, particularly regarding nitrogen and potassium levels in the soil. For example, when nitrogen levels are inadequate, this nutrient is translocated from the stalk to the ear to finish filling kernels, leaving the stalk vulnerable to late-season infections.
Glady recommends scouting fields to conduct pinch tests to assess stalk integrity. (Pinch the stalk 4 to 6 inches above the soil surface. If it collapses, stalk quality is compromised.) Harvesting fields with rotting stalks first may help farmers minimize yield loss, even if it must be done at higher moisture levels. Weigh the extra investment of drying grain down at a higher moisture level against the risk of corn tipping over in your fields and the resulting potential yield loss.
Sudden death syndrome (SDS) was widespread in soybean acres across southern and central parts of the state. For farmers looking to manage SDS pressure next year, he recommends selecting seed varieties that are tolerant to the disease and using seed treatments to give seed added protection against disease. White mold pressure in late August may have taken top-end yield off certain fields; but overall, mold pressure was lower compared to the past couple of years. Farmers harvesting weed-ridden fields should also consider what adjustments should be made to next year’s herbicide program.