Snowy conditions and cold temperatures didn’t deter almost 100 attendees representing 11 states from attending Corn College in the South in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Held this past January, the event was co-located with a Planter Clinic the following day. Farm Journal Associate Field Agronomist Missy Bauer hosted the event, which also drew upon the expertise of independent agronomist Bill Bauer and Erick Larson from Mississippi State.
As corn acres have migrated south, Farm Journal has hosted seminars specifically for these farmers for the past four years. "The fundamentals that add up to more yield don’t change by geography," says Missy Bauer.
The two events were designed to help farmers get their 2014 crop off to a strong start.
"Since 2007, the South has increased its corn acres from 700,000 to 950,000 acres, a significant increase in a very short time," Larson says.
The agenda focused on farmers using the Systems Approach to higher yields, including sessions on geographically specific issues. Topics included growth and development, nitrogen management, zone management and a full-day hands-on Planter Clinic.
While most farmers across the U.S. are familiar with weed resistance to glyphosate and other herbicides, the South has some unique differences associated with pigweed. It is a major problem in soybeans and cotton. But pigweed isn’t a Southern corn grower’s biggest weed nemesis; right now, rye grass gets that designation.
"Mississippi was the first state to document glyphosate resistance in rye grass, which is extremely competitive with corn, mainly because it hits its rapid growth stages at the same time corn is trying to become established," Larson says.
Farmers have had to implement a very aggressive herbicide program to combat this issue, he adds.
"A lot of our populations of rye grass are not only resistant to glyphosate but to the ALS resistant mode of action, too. So the post-emergence herbicides that farmers used in the past are no longer active against our populations of rye grass," Larson explains. "That is continuing to spread throughout our state, and I’m sure it will be an issue in other states, as well. We are
implementing all residual herbicides, along with a two-pass post-emergence program during the spring, to effectively eliminate this issue before the corn is planted. After it’s planted, it’s almost impossible to control."
Key advice. Attendees reported that some of the greatest take-home information included the fundamentals of the Systems Approach.
"We talked about the importance of understanding how stress impacts corn," says Missy Bauer. "Farmers need to scout and look for the yield-limiting factor in that field."
Even with a solid foundation based on the fundamentals, there’s still more to learn.
"Technology is constantly changing, and it’s important to keep up with those changes," says Terry Young, a Woodbury, Tenn., farmer. "The Farm Journal team is always coming up with new data, so I feel like it is important to attend regularly and keep up with the changes that are happening."