Suppose you were combining a field and 20 acres in the middle of the field was down much worse than the rest of the field. It was late November, but still, why only part of the field in trouble?
The first thing to check would likely be if different hybrids were planted there. Close after that, you might want to review your soil fertility program to see if different areas of the field were handled differently. Did one part receive more nitrogen?
Or maybe one part received a broadcast application of potash but the area where corn is down didn't. Corn is a big user of potassium, often supplied by potash. Last year's high prices caused some people to think through how much fertilizer they broadcast a year ago, and where.
Skipping one year isn't a big deal if soil test levels are above the critical level. But if soils are already below maintenance or else just at borderline critical levels, it may not take long for a deficiency to show up. Various agronomists are recommending that their customers stick to a strong soil testing program this year. And fertilize accordingly, despite the cost. Fortunately, potash prices are significantly lower compared to last year at this time.
Other factors can cause lodging, including disease. Foliar disease may set plant sup for stalk rot infections alter in the season. Stalk rot to is one of the major causes of lodging when corn is left to stand this late into the fall. If foliar disease was worse in one area of the field compared to others, it may be related to the fact that the hybrid planted there was more susceptible to whatever foliar disease caused the problem. Based on this season, that would have likely been gray leaf spot or northern corn leaf blight.
All this assumes that fungicide wasn't applied to all or part of the field during the growing season. If it was, then it would be important to determine how the areas for the field reacted where the fungicide was applied.
Be a good detective out there, and use the information to help you plan for next year, suggests Dave Nanda, an independent consultant, based in Indianapolis.
Never finish combining, park the combine, and wait until April to wonder what happened in a certain area, Nanda suggests. The best time to track back a cause is while the crop is in the field. But with soil testing, it might still be possible to track possible changes after the corn is in the bin.