Summer 2020 Region 1 Agronomy Update

Jul 10, 2020

Ryan Petersen, CCA & Region 1 Agronomy Account Manager
Every crop year brings new challenges, and so far, the 2020 growing season has not been any different.  We had plenty of moisture in early spring and some generous planting windows, but still ended up with some emergence issues. We need to be cautious of the subsoil moisture when planting. We had some uneven emergence in corn due to compacted sidewalls and poor seed/soil contact. All this is caused by planting into wet soils. Now that we are getting into VT/R1 growth stages, we have corn that is actively shedding pollen but not all silks have emerged, reducing our chances of uniform fertilization. Later-emerging plants won’t have as much pollen available and may have some blank kernels on the ear come harvest time. Also, uneven silking allows silk clipping insects, such as Japanese beetles and Western Corn Rootworm beetles, a larger window to clip the early silking plants before moving to our later silking plants. More pollination problems to worry about. There are a lot of problems that can compile long into the season if planting conditions are not perfect. We can avoid those problems if we slow down and check behind the planter every chance we get. 

Corn and soybeans are both getting into reproductive growth stages and its time to think about fungicide and insecticide applications. I have been seeing some grey leaf spot showing up in lower canopies of corn this past week. I have also been tracking the southern rust map and with the strong south winds we have gotten this year, there’s no doubt that the southern rust spores are making their way north. Our best defense against southern rust is to treat it preventatively with a fungicide application. We need to target applications to the VT-R1 growth stages to prevent southern rust and other corn diseases. Applying a fungicide at this time will also give us the plant health benefits a fungicide brings to the table. Fungicide will allow the corn plant to tolerate and recover from heat stress, which in turn gives us better kernel development. Depending on conditions, a fungicide may be needed up to the R3 or early R4 growth stages in corn when treating Southern Rust. Something to continue to scout for.

The last thing on my radar is the increased number of insect pests I am seeing in fields, particularly in soybeans. There are more Japanese beetles, stink bugs, and various lepidoptera-type insects defoliating our fields. In the next couple weeks, we will need to evaluate our fields for threshold levels of insects. In my area, we are getting very close in some cases to warrant treatment. I will target the R2-R3 growth stages in soybeans to spray a fungicide/insecticide. It is important to use a systemic insecticide like Endigo ® ZC that will give us residual long into the summer as conditions look ripe for insect feeding. Another pest that we have had to treat in Region 1 this year are spider mites. I have been finding colonies of two-spotted spider mites on field edges and even out to the middle of fields. They are very aggressive feeders and thrive in hot dry conditions; just another challenge for 2020. Though challenging, we can work around the obstacles thrown at us and produce the best crop we can, given what is in our control. All in all, crops are looking good at this point, so don’t hold back and finish the year strong.

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