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4 things to watch for in the field during scouting trips

4 things to watch for in the field during scouting trips
Summer Scouting Report: Soil compaction could still be an issue in cornfields.

Here are four topics worth noting as the season progresses.

1. Watch for lingering soil compaction issues.

I’m still looking at many concerns with sidewall compaction.  Even corn planted during the last full week of May has seen numerous issues early in the season.  The first planted fields are still suffering from minor sidewall compaction. The weather has allowed symptoms to be exaggerated through plant tissue and plant growth. 

Some fields went through a few hard rains after planting that have caused some crusting of soils.  Some kernels unfurled underground.

2. Corn borer is out there. 

COMPACTION EFFECTS LINGER? Whether or not you continue seeing effects from early-season soil compaction may hinge on weather conditions at midseason.

We’re seen the first flights of European corn borer.  Fields of conventional corn should be scouted to look for any damage.  This first generation will feed on leaves and tunnel through the whorl, making the “shot hole” effect.  To be able to control corn borer, we must spray before they tunnel into the plant.

3. Remember nitrogen needs through the season.

The number of corn kernel rows around is determined at about the V5 growth stage.  We want to make sure to keep plants healthy and happy during this stage to maximize kernel rows.  Ear length is determined later in the season.

Corn hybrids use over half of their nitrogen needs from V8, or eight-leaf stage, to tasseling.  Make sure you’re getting nitrogen on before the corn plant needs it, so it never is looking for N to maximize yield.  If you preplanted most of your nitrogen before the rains started in early May, you may need to evaluate if you have lost any N that needs to be supplemented later in the season.

4. Shallow planting depth is issue in soybeans.

Soybeans have been off to a great start with the warm weather and soils.  In a few fields I’ve seen, planting depth has been a concern.  We had poor stands on hills where the ground was dry or had clods.  After a little rain, most of these fields emerged and will do just fine. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we also have fields that were a little heavy at planting.  These fields dried quickly with the warm winds, and soybeans had trouble emerging.  These soybeans could have broken a few necks.  

I take stand counts using the Purdue University Corn & Soybean Field Guide to help me determine yield potential at certain stands and planting dates.  For example, by Purdue's charts, at 80,000 plants per acre, even-spaced populations of soybeans will yield 96% of potential yield in drilled soybeans.  This will help you know whether or not it will pay to replant, or what to expect.

Gauck is team sales agronomist for Beck’s. He writes from Decatur County.

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