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Still plenty of reasons to scout cornfields

Still plenty of reasons to scout cornfields
Crops Corner: Scout for things you can change for 2017, too.

What can you do late in the season to help this corn crop? If it’s too late to help this crop, what can you learn from scouting that could help next year's corn crop?

A panel of Indiana Certified Crop Advisers addresses this question. The panel includes: Betsy Smith, agronomist, Ceres Solutions, Terre Haute; Dan Ritter, agronomist, Brodbeck Seeds, Rensselaer; and Brian Shrader, accounts manager for DuPont Pioneer, Marion.

CHECK POLLINATION SUCCESS: Scout this time of year to check how well pollination worked. If you find ears with issues, try to figure out why.

Shrader: Unfortunately, it’s too late to make any adjustments or corrections, in most cases, on soil nutrients such as phosphorus, potassium or micronutrients if you notice deficiencies. However, continuing to scout and identifying nutrient deficiencies can help with your decision-making on fall fertilizer applications. Additionally, locating areas with soil compaction problems or issues related to soil drainage may allow you to be proactive this fall or in early spring in preparation for your next crop.

Smith: You can scout fields for plant health. Note stalk rots, ear leaf diseases and any firing of lower leaves that might indicate potential nitrogen deficiency. If you grow non-GMO corn, look for any potential corn borer damage. It can compromise stalks in early-planted corn, and compromise stalks and ear shanks, resulting in ear droppage, in later-planted corn. If stalks look to be compromised by disease or corn borer, do the push test to see how many stalks along the row snap back and how many don’t. This push test gives you an indication of lodging potential. Prioritize fields for harvest if some fields have more stalks that fail the push test than other fields.

Ritter: As we move further along in crop development, there tends to be less we can manage as crop operators. If you have irrigation, then it’s a different story from a water management standpoint. I like to scout fields at this time of year to check on crop progress and gain an idea of yield potential. You can check on pollination issues, monitor foliar leaf disease progression and begin to watch for stalk rot. A great deal of insight from a harvest management standpoint can be obtained from monitoring fields now. Observations and information collected now can be put to good use in making decisions for 2017.  

Smith: If you have any fields with significant leaf firing, where leaves show yellowing in an inverted pattern from the leaf tip toward the stalk along the midrib, that’s an indication of low nitrogen status. Firing along the edge of the leaves indicates low potassium status. While we may often find this in spots in heavy soils in wet areas or in sandier soils on dry areas, predominant firing of leaves before the ear finished in a whole field could indicate that your overall N rate is too low. The ideal N rate can be hard to peg from year to year due to environmental conditions. You may want to consider increasing your nitrogen program in a field if you find firing in several fields year in and year out.

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