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Providing Information and Observations From the Field

August 23, 2013

Current Field Observations


Corn Growth & Development: The corn in our indicator field east of Kearney is now in the mid dent stage of growth. Our crops have collected 156 GDU in the past seven days and this field has accumulated 2188 GDU, or 93% of the long term average, since planting on April 29th. From the one corn seed that was planted this spring the resulting plant has produced 500 to 600 kernels. Just what does it take to produce this kind of return on investment in such a short period of time? According to The Fertilizer Handbook, 200 bushel s of corn will contain 180 pounds nitrogen, 72 pounds P 205 (phosphorus), 32 pounds K2O (potassium), 14 pounds sulfur, and .2 pound of zinc in the grain. A 200 bushel corn crop requires 20 to 24 inches of water coming from a combination of soil reserves, rainfall, and irrigation. Yield Projections: While browsing the internet and reading the agronomic information from various land grant universities on a weekly basis there seems to be a consensus that corn yields should be better than average. In the most recent Crop Watch specialists from the University of Nebraska used the Hybrid-Maize corn growth simulation model to project that corn yields could be 5-10% above average for similar planting dates in the past. There is no doubt that the cool nights we have experienced will be a benefit by reducing night time respiration and allow the plant to add more kernel depth and density. I will take a more cautious approach for now. I think there are a number of fields that will yield very well but it seems that there are also a fair share that are average. 2013 has some similarities to 2009 in that 2009 was a relatively cool year. In my yearly summary for 2009 three of my key points were: Mild temperatures with cool nights through July and August - similar to 2013 Many days with intense sunshine despite the cool weather through grain fill - not so in 2013 Good ear tip fill - not so in 2013

You all remember that 2009 was a great year for corn production in central Nebraska. I can remember that in 2009 that ear sizes looked much larger than they do this year and consultants had a good inkling that something special was occurring as we made our final field visits. I keep reminding myself that many of our growers are planting at least an additional 2,000 seeds per acre than they were four years ago. With the heavier plant populations we will see smaller ear sizes and some tipping back on the ear. Only the combine will tell the final story. Corn Diseases: Gray leaf spot has remained at very low levels through the growing season in the Kearney area. Southern leaf rust is present at trace to very low levels and I am not concerned with it developing to threatening levels in the fields I am monitoring on a weekly basis. Goss' wilt continues to develop as the plant matures. Resistance to Goss' wilt should be the first trait you consider when choosing hybrids for your 2014 lineup. Maize Chlorotic Mottle Virus is becoming severe in a number of long term continuous corn fields. To scout for the disease look into the upper canopy and examine the leaves as the light shines through the canopy. You will see a mottling look to the leaves that is somewhat similar to the leaf discoloration caused by low levels of spider mite. There is enough pressure from MCMV in a number of our fields that we are expecting premature death of many of the infected plants. MCMV is vectored by rootworm larvae and adults so fields with heavy pressure from this insect pest tend to have more problems. MCMV

Soybean Growth & Development: Soybeans are rapidly filling pods with seeds getting some good size to them in the lower part of the canopy. Insect and disease pressure is still very light in area fields. 60 bushels of soybeans will contain 225 pounds nitrogen, 53 pounds P 205 (phosphorus), 83 pounds K2O (potassium), 6 pounds sulfur, and .06 pound of zinc in the grain. Soybeans will require the same amount of water to produce a crop as corn although peak water usage occurs approximately two to three weeks after the peak water use of corn. Be watching for the R6 stage of development or full seed fill. R6 is defined as a plant with a pod containing a green seed that fills the pod cavity at one of the four uppermost nodes on the main stem. The guideline for last irrigation in soybeans is that they require 3.5 inches of moisture to progress from R6 to maturity. 2013 Growing Season in Review: As the summer winds down let's recap some of the significant events of the 2013 growing season. High carryover soil nitrate levels Fertilizer prices approximately $425 / ton for 32-0-0, $575 / ton for 10-34-0, and $650 / ton for 11-52-0 through the early spring of 2013 Late April and early May were very cold Experienced rain, hail, and snow on May 1st Reduced pressure from winter annual weeds Most corn planted from April 27-May 8th Most soybeans planted from May 8-16th Good soil moisture and tilth at planting Stand establishment is good in corn averaging 30,555 per acre Average plant population in area soybean fields is 141,285 plants per acre May 1, 2013 Kearney, NE Windy conditions from mid May to mid June Very good performance of soil residual herbicides - especially when applied prior to planting Rainfall significantly lower than long term averages through much of the early growing season Harsh weather conditions contributing to non performance of post emerge glyphosate applications Diesel fuel prices near $3.32 per gallon through most of the growing season Excellent color and condition of the corn crop by the end of June Good overwintering survival of rootworm eggs resulting in heavy rootworm larval pressure Significant yield reductions due to drought in dryland corn fields by mid July Scattered rainfall of varying and significant amounts beginning in last third of July Numerous cloudy days through a three week period beginning in late July Heavy abortion of ear tip kernels in some fields and hybrids Significant savings in irrigation expenses Growing degree accumulations approximately 7% below long term averages by August 22nd Gray leaf spot pressure very low Southern leaf rust present at trace to very light levels Maize Chlorotic Mottle Virus present at yield limiting levels in long term continuous corn fields Goss' wilt increasing in severity as season progresses Long season hybrids projected to black layer at the end of September Contracts for grain delivered in the fall of 2013 is $4.52/bushel for corn and $12.64/bushel for soybeans Forward contracts for grain delivered in the fall of 2014 is $4.61/ bushel for corn and $11.14/bushel for soybeans Harvest is projected to be delayed with high drying costs

Last Weekly Issue


This issue marks the end of the weekly updates for crop year 2013 from the Agronomic Advisory. We hope you have enjoyed our fourteenth crop season of publication as much as I have enjoyed producing it. Be looking for periodic mailings through the fall, winter, and early spring.