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November 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 TestPlots@FarmJournal.com, and we’ll respond on this blog to provide an interactive dialogue.

How Much N Is In The Soil To Support My Corn Crop?

Nov 29, 2010

Question: How much nitrogen is available in the soil to support the growth of my corn crop?

Answer: Between 30% and 70% of the nitrogen we need to grow a corn crop can come from the soil when the nitrogen cycle is able to work efficiently—that’s roughly 3,000 to 6,000 lb. of inorganic nitrogen. Part of why farmers apply nitrogen is to stimulate the soil microbes to help with the process of accessing the nitrogen in soil. The soil microbes immobilize nitrogen and then it is mineralized back into the field. One way to ensure that the nitrogen cycle is able to conduct itself efficiently is to maintain proper soil pH, because the microbes have a narrow pH window they work within.  Please check out the following link to learn more about the nitrogen cycle and how to put it to work in your fields next season.
 
 
This blog is provided as an interactive way for you to have your questions answered by our Farm Journal Agronomists. E-mail your nitrogen, soil fertility, soil density, planter set-up, scouting, and other questions to: TestPlots@FarmJournal.com.
 

Check Out This Wheat Head Scab Prediction Tool

Nov 22, 2010

 Fusarium head blight (FHB) or head scab of wheat can cause significant yield loss, and damaged grain is often contaminated with the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON), commonly known as vomitoxin. The disease is best managed through a combination of variety resistance and timely applications of fungicides when weather conditions elevate the risk of disease development. In recent years, there has been considerable effort to predict the risk of FHB and the need for fungicide applications in wheat.

Web-based prediction tools (http://www.wheatscab.psu.edu/riskTool_2010.html) provide daily estimates of disease risk for 25 states east of the Rocky Mountains. This multi-state effort requires considerable resources to maintain, and scientists involved in the project would like to gather some input to justify continued investment of time, computing resources and funds needed to sustain the effort. If you have used the prediction tools, please take a few minutes to complete the on-line survey. Your feedback can help researchers evaluate, improve and maintain the system.The link to the survey is: http://www.hostedsurvey.com/takesurvey.asp?c=2010Us121326
 
The preceding information was provided by Pierce Paul, Ohio State University plant pathologist.
 
This blog is provided as an interactive way for you to have your questions answered by our Farm Journal Agronomists. E-mail your nitrogen, soil fertility, soil density, planter set-up, scouting, and other questions to: TestPlots@FarmJournal.com.
 
 
 

What Exactly Is The Value Of Potassium?

Nov 19, 2010

Question: What exactly is the value of potassium to my corn crop?

Answer: In field crops, potassium (K) is important for managing water and standability. When potassium deficiencies occur, lodging can happen. Photosynthesis and respiration are also somewhat controlled by potassium. Because potassium has a role in water movement, it affects the movement of carbohydrates throughout the plant.Potassium is the activator in more than 80 essential enzyme reactions within the plant. It’s a big part of how a plant manages environmental stress. Fields that are low in potassium tend not to be able to handle stresses, such as drought tolerance, winter hardiness in perennial crops and resistance or tolerance to disease and insects.Potassium also is required for cells to maintain internal pressure, so plants don’t wilt.Plus, it plays a role in taking water into plant cells. The positive charges on potassium ions draw in the negative charges on water molecules. If potassium moves out of the cells, it draws water out.
 
The value of potassium versus nitrogen is explained here. Plus, find out how you can determine deficiencies in either of these inputs.
 
This blog is provided as an interactive way for you to have your questions answered by our Farm Journal Agronomists. E-mail your nitrogen, soil fertility, soil density, planter set-up, scouting, and other questions to: TestPlots@FarmJournal.com.

What Causes Uneven Spacings In Corn?

Nov 15, 2010

Question:I heard something recently about how to tell the causes of poor corn spacing but didn’t get the entire story. Please pass that along when you have a chance. Thanks.

Answer:You probably saw a snippet of our Corn College TV program on corn spacing. Here’s a quick recap. After the corn emerges, there are simple ways to determine the causes of problematic plant spacings. For instance, a double occurs when the planter meter picks up two seeds and drops two at the same time. In the field, you can tell whether this is what occurred when it looks like you have good uniform spacing on either side of the two plants that are too close together. However, a misplaced seed looks different from a double. With a misplaced seed, while the spacing is still real close together, you will see a gap from where the seed should have been on one side of the grouping. In this case the meter functioned properly in releasing one seed at a time, but there was ricochet in the seed tube, which caused the seed to bounce and the timing to be off. You can learn more about corn spacing guidelines in Episode 3 of Corn College TV. 
 
This blog is provided as an interactive way for you to have your questions answered by our Farm Journal Agronomists. E-mail your nitrogen, soil fertility, soil density, planter set-up, scouting, and other questions to: TestPlots@FarmJournal.com.
 
 

Use More Than One Chemistry For Weed Control

Nov 12, 2010

Question: I had more of a weed problem this year than I’d expected and could really see them from the combine. I probably should go to something other than only glyphosate next year, but the price is hard to beat. What do you suggest?

 
Answer: This is a good time to be thinking about what you want to do for weed control next season. Definitely rethink the tactic of using only glyphosate. It’s a great product, but you are doing yourself a disservice using only that herbicide—or any other single product. The best way to protect against yield losses from early season weed competition is the use of an early pre-plant herbicide application. Herbicides applied early preplant do not necessarily require incorporation and can be applied when it is too early to plant and before weeds begin to germinate.  Furthermore, the probabilities of timely rainfall necessary to move the herbicide into the active weed seed bank are high. That way, when weed germination occurs, the herbicide is in position to control the weeds. Early preplant herbicides will control many of weeds that germinate first during the season.  The first weed germination flushes occur in greatest numbers and are most detrimental to potential crop yields.  As a result of the early preplant herbicides, crops are protected from yield-robbing weeds and you’ll have more time to make post-emergencewhether applied early preplant or otherwise, will provide season long control of weeds.  Soil-applied residual herbicides applied early preplant can also delay or minimize the risk of weeds becoming resistant to routine applications of post-emergence herbicides.
 
This blog is provided as an interactive way for you to have your questions answered by our Farm Journal Agronomists. E-mail your nitrogen, soil fertility, soil density, planter set-up, scouting, and other questions to: TestPlots@FarmJournal.com.
 

Should I Use A Corn Fungicide?

Nov 08, 2010

Question: What do you recommend regarding the use of fungicides in corn?

Answer: "You must know what fungicide to apply for each disease, and when to apply it,” says Ken Ferrie, Farm Journal Agronomist. "It's not a matter of simply applying whatever product your supplier happens to sell.”
 
Some fungicides are preventive in nature, which means they must be applied before a lot of disease damage has occurred. Others are curative, which means they can be applied later.
 
"But all fungicides work best if they are applied at the early onset of disease,” says University of Illinois Extension Plant Pathologist Carl Bradley
 
"Keep in mind which leaves you are trying to protect the most—the leaves closest to the ear,” he continues. "A preventive application can still be effective if lower leaves have the disease but the important leaves are still disease-free.
 
"In my studies, tassel emergence or slightly after seems to be the best timing for corn fungicides,” Bradley adds. "This year (2010 season), applications very early in the season—at the V5 stage or so—are being talked about; but, in general, disease pressure is very low, or even absent, at that time. Unfortunately, there seems to be very little data available, either from companies or universities, on these early fungicide applications to corn.”
 
Bradley and Ferrie are conducting fungicide research in corn. Stay tuned this winter as Farm Journal will continue to address the important topic of fungicide use.
 
Check out this information to evaluate fungicide use in corn.
 
This blog is provided as an interactive way for you to have your questions answered by our Farm Journal Agronomists. E-mail your nitrogen, soil fertility, soil density, planter set-up, scouting, and other questions to: TestPlots@FarmJournal.com.
 
 

Check Your Stored Grain For Quality Control

Nov 01, 2010

Many farmers are understandably happy that the 2010 harvest season is over or about over. If you are one of the fortunate farmers who completed harvest early, take a minute to consider the brief article that follows, provided to us by Roger Bender, Ohio State University (OSU) Extension specialist in Shelby County. Roger has some timely thoughts to share regarding the condition of your grain. His main message: check your bins.

OSU Extension Offices have received reports of bins of grain sweating to the point of moisture dripping from the roofs and down the sides of the bins.  With soybeans coming off so dry and the idea that beans are easy to store, some farmers may be forgetting a key factor.  All grain needs to be cooled down to avoid condensation.  Yes, the soybeans may have been binned at 9-10% moisture, but harvested at 80 degrees F, setting up an ideal condensation scenario when outside temperatures dip into the 40's and below. 
 
Much of the farm storage of soybeans is in bins without stirrators and some of those bins may have inadequate ventilation which could cause some serious problems with temperature and moisture management. 
 
Farmers are more likely to track grain condition in corn bins but once again may be lulled into thinking if they did not need to dry it, why put air on it?  Remember that more stored grain goes out of condition because temperatures are not controlled than for any other reason. 
 
Since grain is a good insulator, it does not cool uniformly as outside temperatures drop.  Air near the bin wall cools and settles toward the bin bottom creating convection currents.  The air then rises up through the warm grain picking up moisture in the form of water vapor.  The air continues to move towards cooler grain near the surface, where the moisture condenses and can cause spoilage.
 
The most common location of wet or spoiled grain is at the top-center of the bin. Another location for storage problem symptoms is the grain near the bin wall, often the colder north wall.
 
Source:  Grain Drying, Handling and Storage Handbook, Midwest Plans Service.
 
PLEASE keep in mind your stored grain is like money in the bank, but only if its condition is properly maintained.
 
For more information of corn storage molds, see the article by the same name in the CORN Newsletter 2010-33 at:  http://corn.osu.edu/newsletters/2010/2010-33
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