Too much rain, not enough sun, flooding, disease and more: the 2015 corn crop in Illinois has seen its share of troubles this year.
And it isn't over yet, says Stephanie Porter, Burrus Seed sales agronomist.
"Right now, stalk rot is on the radar. Leaf rot leads to stalk rot and some corn hybrids have shut down," Porter explains. Fungicide applications will likely have helped, but when corn is stressed, it puts sugars and energy into the ear and kernels, robbing them from the stalk and creating potential for stalk rot.
Porter adds that heavy nitrogen loss can also cause stalk rot. "If you applied nitrogen in the spring instead of the fall and started out with adequate levels that were then washed away, that could set you up for stalk rot."
In general, stalk rot can cause yield losses of 5 to 20%. Harvest losses add up as well. Porter says to check 10 plants by pinching the second or third internode of the stalk above ground level. Push the stalks and if they collapse easily, cut them open to check for disease or insects. "If more than 10% of stalks appear to have stalk rot, harvest these areas as soon as grain is physically mature, using a slow combine speed," Porter recommends.
For more on stalk rot and the 2015 conditions that have made conditions ripe, check out Porter's blog, Corn Fields Callin' It Quits, at Burrus Seed.