By Greg Roth, Penn State Cooperative Extension Grain Crop Management
The impacts of the weather continue to be evident in our grain crops. There will likely be a need to be monitoring crops throughout the season to try to minimize the impacts of weather related stresses.
Our corn planting is thankfully almost complete by now, with a second wave of fill in plantings and replants that have occurred in some fields due to a variety of issues including wet areas with poor germination. This could result in uneven maturity in some fields. Many folks were able to back off on the maturity of the some of the June planted corn and now we will need to monitor growth and development through the remainder of the season. Last week’s cool temperatures have resulted in a slow start for the late planted crops in some areas. A warm, wet summer would be ideal for the development of these late planted crops.
Soybean planting is finishing up with wet fields and double crop soybeans following the winter grain crops. Soybean development is also lagging behind, due to the late planting and cool conditions last week. Slow growth and late planting make the crop especially susceptible to damage from groundhogs and deer. Plants can recover from some defoliation above the first node and as subsequent shoots develop from axillary buds. Repeated defoliation results in plant mortality. Soybean nodulation should be present in most fields and now would be a good time to assess nodule formation, especially in first year soybean fields to see if any supplemental in season N management needs to occur.
Barley harvest is underway with some disappointing reports of grain quality with bushel weights below 40 pounds per bushel being reported. Low test weights and mycotoxins are likely a result of scab infections and weathering of the grain during the late May wet period. Identifying markets for on farm uses for low quality barley is a key to maximizing the value of this crop. Feedlot cattle are one of the most tolerant of DON in finished feed. The high price of corn should mean that even low test weight barley has some value.
The wheat crop is ripening and evidence of scab is present in many fields. Now is the time to assess the worst fields or field areas and plan harvesting and marketing strategies. At harvest, differences will be less visible. You may also assess differences among varieties for future reference. Scab incidence is a function of variety, timing of flowering and the weather, which makes selection difficult, but striving for lines with less scab incidence needs to be part of our integrated management of this disease for the future.