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Stalk rot: Coming to a field near you

Stalk rot: Coming to a field near you
Crop Watch 2015: Agronomist believes stage may be set for stalk rot issues.

Two broken stalks caught Dave Nanda's attention walking through the Crop Watch '15 field recently. He immediately suspected stalk rot. However, when he examined where the stalks broke, he decided it was from some other cause, such as an animal walking through the field, rather than stalk rot.

Crop Watch 8/31: Depth of kernels matters on final corn yield

Nanda is a consultant with Seed Consultants, Inc.

Nanda believes that the field, and both hybrids planted side by side across the field, will be a candidate for stalk rot this fall, especially if the weather favors disease development.

Crop Watch 2015: Agronomist believes stage may be set for stalk rot issues.

"There is a lot of pressure from gray leaf spot," he says. "It is particularly rampant on the mid and lower part of the plant. That stress alone will make the plants more vulnerable should we have wet, cool weather later, he believes. Stalk rot organisms are out there, and they are more likely to invade and set up shop where plants are stressed."

Walking through the field, Nanda noticed some areas with a few plants already lodged. However, after examination, he attributed it to wind and wet soils earlier in the season, not to stalk rot. And he didn't believe it was related to insect feeding.

"Fields were so wet and when we had heavy winds, they were vulnerable to some lodging," he says. "Overall the lodging is minimal and is not a major consideration in this field."

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Nanda believes that especially where fields were stressed by too much water and/or too much disease, or if they ran out of nitrogen early, it will be important to scout them as the corn begins to dry down.

Will stalks stand? Watching for stalk rot and potential lodging will be an important scouting chore this fall.

It may be necessary to mark those fields for early harvest if you want to prevent higher than normal harvest losses, he says. The trade-off may be estimating harvest loss if you leave the corn in the field vs. drying costs for harvesting early.

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