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Soil Erosion Remains Corn Belt Problem

Soil Erosion Remains Corn Belt Problem
Tons of soil has been displaced by recent heavy rains in the Corn Belt.

The anticipated continuation of the drought in Iowa and points farther west seems to have dissipated into heavy rains across the Corn Belt.

The wet season delayed planting and has sent tons of soil washing off of hillsides in steeper parts of the Corn Belt, especially where old-fashioned terraces and grass waterways aren't used as much as they once were. Some still remain, however, and appear to still work.

On a trip though Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and South Dakota a few days ago, I observed lots of soil pooled up at the bottom of hills after heavy rains, especially where fields had been worked with conventional tillage. Some areas recorded several inches of rain over the past two weeks.

Slow start: Short, let-planted corn and plenty of soil washed form spot to spot characterize 2013 so far all across the Corn Belt.

During the entire tip, one thing was constant: while most fields were planted, the crop was small for the first week of June. Soybeans were also out of the ground but small. A few fields still weren't planted, and some waterholes appeared large enough to perhaps cause some spot replanting, assuming it dries up in time.

What the wet soils mean is that scouting for pests and diseases early in the season will be important. Some agronomists have already said that foliar diseases on corn could get an early start. Only a shift toward drier weather might stop the trend. Diseases expected to be found in major parts of the Corn Belt include grey leaf spot, anthracnose in the early phase, common rust and in areas far enough south in the Corn Belt, southern rust.

Scouting guides showing these diseases at the early stage of infection are available. Some industry people still suggest foliar applications of fungicides on young corn. Others suggest watching for infections and being geared up and ready to spray at the R1 or first reproductive stage for corn. Read and follow labels carefully if you chose to spray a fungicide on corn so that the timing is right for best performance, and to avoid crop injury.

TAGS: Soybeans
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