AgriTalk host Mike Adams caught up with Farm Journal Field Agronomist Ken Ferrie on the air June 26. Ferrie said year-to-year there is a drastic comparison in the crop condition. On June 18 last year, he had corn tasseling, and this year the corn at his location is just over knee-high. In visiting with his farmer clients and traveling his area in central Illinois Ferrie says there are two top agronomic concerns: weed pressure and nitrogen management.
The recent series of rains has left 1" to 3" across Ferrie’s central Illinois area.
"We’ve been struggling to keep weeds in check," Ferrie says. "Every day that sprayers aren’t in the field means that the weeds keep growing. In no-till and tilled fields marestail looks like our state flower, and if we don’t get control of weed pressures we’ll soon see waterhemp right behind it."
Not only have soggy fields sidelined sprayers, but sidedress toolbars aren’t able to run and standing water is depriving plants of the nitrogen in the soil.
"We made predictions on nitrate levels and where we are at, and the weather will dictate if we can hold those levels or if the nitrogen is denitrifying or leaching away," Ferrie says. "With visual appearances, you have to separate if you are seeing water damage, sulfur deficiency or nitrogen issues."
To better understanding the nitrogen available to the corn plant, Ferrie recommends soil nitrate testing.
"We recommend sampling the first foot of soil, and a second sample of the second foot," he explains. "Traditionally, we see that nitrate levels are higher in the first foot, however this year, that is flip flopped with many of our results showing higher nitrate levels in the second foot of the soil profile. This indicates leaching. And the plants can use that nitrogen, but the plant has to have depth of root to reach it."
Ferrie says as plants grow and get depth of their rooting system, he thinks some fields could turn back green if that nitrogen is still available.
With these issues in mind, Ferrie has tailored the Corn College agenda to address this year’s challenges. Learn more about the 2013 lineup of events and register here.
Listen to the entire AgriTalk interview here: