Disease and insect pressure are very high this year. My agronomist says western bean cutworm beetle traps were over threshold for more than two weeks. We are right in the middle of when the eggs will be hatching into hungry larva looking for the ear. Reports also include European corn borer and Japanese beetles. Scouting reports show plant disease creeping up the plant. So far rust (in corn) is the most prevalent fungus we’ve seen, but others like northern leaf blight are creeping in as well. The most common report in soybeans is of septoria brown spot, with some isolated frog eye being found. Japanese beetle feeding is also common in the soybean fields.
After 8 inches of rain over a 7-day period a week ago many fields are going backwards. We have flooded out holes in places we never see them in July. Mornings continue to be damp with dew and fog. I’m sure whispers of vomitoxin are beginning to resound again this year. We received more rain Thursday and Friday night (not included in the total above). It has been several years since irrigation use has been this low this late into the growing season.
Last week, we had dry fertilizer applications made with airplanes. Only about half of these were planned. The other half was supposed to be fertigated - applied with irrigation - however it was simply too wet to run the irrigation.
This week, airplanes returned to make fungicide and insecticide applications while the corn is pollinating. With high pest and disease pressure, we are using full labeled rates. In the past, it has been common practice in our geography to use the low label rate. We are hoping this season will not require a second application. This would be new for our area, and some serious number crunching will have to be done. We will also have to consult with some more southern growers who are more accustomed to this dilemma. Each trip with the airplane comes at a cost of $20-$30 per acre including product and application. That adds up fast.
Soybeans are just entering R3. The ground was dry enough briefly this week that I was able to make ground applications of plant health products to some soybean fields. The mix I used varied some based on crop conditions but generally included a fungicide, insecticide and plant food. There are a few more fields to cover before we have to make decisions on how to handle some of the fields that have gone backwards. There are definitely some fields that will receive no further investments.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.