Scout to Set Harvest Expectations

02:13PM Aug 07, 2020
Corn Goldenstein Farm 27
( Darrell Smith )

While there’s little left you can do to change corn and soybean yields, you still need to scout. Taking the time to scout now helps you set expectations for harvest, so there are no surprises, and tells you what ‘problem’ fields need to be watched closely for an early harvest.

“We've seen some pollination issues show up this past week, in the areas where the corn was suffering from drought conditions coming into pollination,” says Ken Ferrie, Farm Journal field agronomist. “In the wind damaged corn, we're seeing some pollination issues there as well, especially the ears that ended up on the bottom side of the stalk.”

If you’re in the swath of states that suffered during the mid-July storm that brought wind damage to many, make sure you know what’s going on in your fields. It might be a good time to send out drones or get some aerial imagery. In some cases, Ferrie expects there will be insurance claims because of this wind.

Disease watchouts

It’s prime time for diseases in corn and soybeans—including tricky ear or pod diseases and the beginnings of stalk diseases. Take notes or photos now to compare hybrids and varieties to help with next year’s seed selection.

“Take that ear leaf off and compare it across that plot and see how many lesions you've got,” Ferrie says. “If you wait too long and we start to decimate the bottom end of that plant, you'll lose some of your best comparisons. Disease pressure continued to build this past week in the corn, but we only found two fields that were actually at threshold.”

So far, he’s seen physoderma brown spot and Goss’s wilt in corn. If you have tar spot or live in a county with a history of tar spot, make sure you’re looking for it, too, as it is aggressive and can cause yield loss. Areas with wind and hail damage should be watching for Goss’s wilt especially.

Soybean weed concerns

As the soybean plants start to drop leaves, the canopy opens back up and leaves the soil ripe for weed growth. Take note of what’s out there over the coming weeks.

“[Weed growth could be rapid] this is especially true in our 30-inch beans,” Ferrie says. “At this stage your options are limited. These are big weeds and stopping them won't be easy.”

In addition to traditional weeds in soybeans, Ferrie says he’s seeing a lot of volunteer corn this year. Just like regular weeds, if it goes to seed that could be a problem next year.

Check out more from Ken Ferrie in this week’s Boots in the Field podcast.

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For more agronomic information and topics, check out Ken Ferrie’s presentation during Farm Journal Field Days Aug. 25-27. Farm Journal Virtual Field Days offers something on the agenda for everyone on the farm team. With this hybrid event experience, you can customize your time investment to match your schedule.

Register now for the free virtual event: