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June 2010 Archive for Ask an Agronomist

RSS By: Farm Journal Agronomists, Farm Journal

Have your agronomic questions answered by a Farm Journal agronomist. E-mail us directly at, and we’ll respond on this blog to provide an interactive dialogue.

How Do I Know If I Have Nematodes?

Jun 28, 2010

Question: How do I know if I have corn nematode problems? A lot of my neighbors think they have had significant nematode damage in past years, and many guys in the area are trying the new seed treatments to control these pests.


Answer: The nematode problem is getting bigger across the Corn Belt. Less tillage, corn-on-corn rotations and other factors are increasing nematode pressures in many fields.


You can take a sample yourself and send it in for analysis. While nematodes are tough on corn, these microscopic-sized pests are quite fragile and easily destroyed if not handled gently during the sampling process.


In this video, Missy Bauer, Associate Field Agronomist for Farm Journal, provides some simple directions to insure your sampling success. Talk with your extension specialist or seed salesman for more details.


You can learn more about nematode pressures, identification, diagnostics, and ongoing Farm Journal Test Plots research at this summer’s Corn College. The one-day session on Friday July 23 has 20 spots left for registration. Visit:

Corn Rootworms Like Hot, Dry Weather

Jun 21, 2010

Question: With the wet year that we’ve had here in Illinois, do you anticipate that we’ll have much of a corn rootworm problem?


Answer: Honestly, it’s always hard to say what to expect from pests in any given year, though, admittedly, corn rootworms do like hot, dry weather.  Still, it’s early enough in the season that we wouldn’t want you to assume there will be little to no problem this year.  Your best bet is to be checking for corn rootworm larval feeding injury during the next few weeks by checking root samples.  Dig up corn plants across your fields – 8-10 throughout a field -- and look for larvae that might be feeding on the roots. To identify larvae, they are white and roughly a half-inch long with a brown head. Even if there are no larvae present, just to be sure, you still need to check the roots for any feeding damage that may have occurred.


Striping in corn may indicate a nutrient deficiency

Jun 18, 2010

Question: For the past few years I’ve seen some reddish brown striping or streaks in the leaves of my corn about the time it gets 12-inches tall. What is that, and should I be concerned?



Answer: Since you’re seeing this occur repeatedly, chances are that the striping is indicating some type of nutrient deficiency in your crop.  It may be a sulfur, magnesium or potassium deficiency, or some combination of the three. Such deficiencies can be significantly yield limiting, and they do need to be addressed. We recommend that you send some samples of the affected corn plants to your agronomist or university extension lab for testing.  You probably won’t be able to address this problem this season, but taking care of any fertility issues could make a significant difference in your corn yields next year.

Rolling Soybeans after Emergence

Jun 07, 2010

Question: When is the best time to roll soybeans after emergence?


Answer: Producers who roll soybeans do so to smooth out their fields and push rocks and dirt clods into the soil in order to make the process of combining easier come harvest. Along with that, rolling soybean fields can allow you to use a lower combine cutterbar height. Be aware that there is potential for plant injury and subsequent yield loss when you roll soybeans after emergence, so do follow some precautions to minimize that possibility: Research indicates that if you roll fields when soybeans are between the cotyledon and first-trifoliate growth stages, you can minimize the chance of injury and plant loss. It’s also important to roll fields in the heat of the day when the plants are likely to be limp, and therefore less susceptible to breakage.

University of Minnesota researchers evaluated the pros and cons of rolling by measuring plant populations and erosion potential, and estimating residue coverage, harvest ease and yield.

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