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Cropwatch Cornfield In Precarious Position

Cropwatch Cornfield In Precarious Position

Sufficient rain would salvage parts of the field.

The Cropwatch '12 field got a great start, but sitting in a zone of D3 drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor as of July 12, it is now in a precarious position. Part of the field could still yield reasonably well. Part of the field is just trying to produce kernels of any kind.

Seed Consultants, Inc., offers free bags of seed for those that can guess final yield. Clues are provided weekly on the Web and monthly in the magazine. Since drought has broken out, we'll hold off on asking for yield estimates until we see how the next two weeks unfold.

Too much stress- A good portion of the Crop Watch field looks like this. As time goes by bottom leaves are firing. Nanda says it's actually due to nitrogen deficiency in the plants.

Dave Nanda, director of genetics and technology for Seed Consultants, Inc., visited the site recently. "It certainly is two fields in one," he says. "Part of the field is normal height and has decent ears. There are some barren stalks, but with good rain, it could still produce more than 100 bushels per acre."

Only a month ago, before the drought intensified, Nanda truly believed the field still had 200 bushels per acre yield potential. That slipped away quickly as soils went bone dry and the excessive heat of the Fourth of July week took its toll.

"The other part of the field is short and really struggling," he says. "There are obvious signs of nitrogen deficiency. It's happening simply because roots can't take up the N- it's too dry.

"Some people think the corn is just firing and dying from stress. When that happens, it generally starts at the top of the plant and works down. This is happening on the bottom leaves and working up. There are tell-tale signs of N deficiency on the leaves. The yellowing works in from the tip down the midrib."

Besides the inability of roots tot able up N, the plants are also cannibalizing plant parts to find enough nutrients to fill whatever kernels it can.

The next two weeks will help determine if the field can be salvaged and produce a low but decent yield, or if it will be a disaster, Nanda notes.
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