Nitrogen availability near flowering time and during grain fill is one of the most important differences in final yields.
Leaching and wash off of surface applied N, on wetter or compacted soils and in continuous corn situations have led to some later planted fields showing yellowing and stunting. Side dressing of small amounts of N could lead to yield increases, but it may take a while to get the active roots to reach the N.
Foliar feeding may be helpful to get the plants actively growing, so they can reach the available N. This is due partially to the fact that some surface Nitrogen was lost and partially due to the fact that roots stayed shallow due to a lack of oxygen during the cold period and now may be suffering from lack of moisture in the surface root zone.
Early planted corn has a deeper root system and more completely explored the N in the deeper soil profile.
Since Nitrogen is so important to your corn crop, the use of the Corn Nitrogen Rate Calculator Web tool will help guide you toward maximum profitability as the price of corn and the price of Nitrogen vary, but it only works if the Nitrogen is not lost before the plant gets to it.
Anytime you lay out cash for a hope of future return risk is involved. Manage that risk well by using a tool like the ISU extension Ag Decision Maker:
This is a great tool to use with your own costs and to help you put together a marketing plan for the crops or animals you manage, so you remain a profitable and sustainable farming operation. There are many input costs which you can control and the use of these tools emphasizes the need for a good marketing plan that is proactive rather than reactive. The people who had a marketing plan and sold or protected the price in June of 2016 were well rewarded last year, so preparing a marketing plan which will allow you to react to weather concerns this Summer may be a good move to be profitable in 2017.This is a critical year to have a plan that covers your variable production costs, since there is a lot of downside risk, especially for soybeans.
Great article by Rod Swoboda of the Wallaces Farmer about when to cut Alfalfa and when to plant Cover Crops. I'd also add that around eastern Iowa silage cutting should be about done based on moisture in the silage (if the rains allowed cutting) and so you could be planting alfalfa or cover crops now in those fields.
Alfalfa and Cover Crop Notes
Compiled by Rod Swoboda of the Wallaces Farmer
Fall harvest tips for alfalfa—taking the final cutting
Lang says he and his ISU Extension colleagues are also getting questions about alfalfa harvesting management. This time of year, there are always questions regarding when that last cutting of alfalfa hay could be made and still allow enough time to build root food reserves before the first killing frost hits in the fall. The answers to these questions are usually something like… “it’s fine to harvest through the first week of September” and “we recommend harvesting at least six weeks before the killing frost.”
On average, the alfalfa killing frost (25 degrees F or below) in northeast Iowa occurs in the third week of October. So there is minimal risk harvesting alfalfa through about Sept. 10 in northeast Iowa, notes Lang.
Watch number of growing degree days, not the calendar
While those “good old answers” still work, the more correct answer actually deals with
growing degree days (GDD), not the calendar, says Lang. Researchers now define a risk assessment of fall harvest based on alfalfa GDD. The research basically says as long as the plants accumulate at least 500 GDD from harvest to killing frost, the plants will have stored enough root carbohydrate to survive the winter.
A nice summary of this research is available at the following website. The data from Lancaster and Beloit, Wisc. (southern Wisconsin) would apply quite nicely to northeast Iowa, he says. That website is uwex.edu/ces/forage/pubs/Late-Summer-Cutting-Management-of-Alfalfa.pdf.
The Lancaster & Beloit data suggest alfalfa harvested through the first week of September is very low risk of winter injury, having plenty of time to replenish root carbohydrates going into the winter. A September 15 harvest could start providing some risk, and a September 21 harvest even more risk. “These risks do not mean that you will lose the entire stand, but rather would likely lose a percentage of plants and reduction in first crop yield next season because of winter injury and slowed plant recovery in spring,” says Lang.
What if you chose to harvest “after the killing frost”?
Growing Degree Day (GDD) research says as long as the plants do not accumulate more than 200 GDD from after harvest to before the killing frost, the plants should still overwinter just fine. “This means that you do not have to wait for the actual killing frost to occur as long as you are close enough to it when you harvest,” says Lang.
For example, October 15 is a good cut-off date in locations if the killing frost has not occurred yet, it likely will soon, and the weather in late October is usually cold enough that 200 GDD will not accumulate in the time remaining in the fall. A critical issue with harvesting after a killing frost is that little to no regrowth will occur following the harvest, so you want to cut high, leaving a good stubble height (approximately 6 inches) to help trap snow and insulate the plants.
Cover crop time of seeding, does it make a difference?
Lang is also fielding questions from farmers this week regarding cover crops. Aerial seeding of cover crops into standing soybeans usually begins when the mid-canopy leaves start to yellow, he notes. This is around the R6.5 stage of soybean growth.
Some leaf drop begins at this time, and it’s nice to have the cover crop seed under the leaf drop rather than on top of the leaf drop. So, we like to get the seed on the ground before more than 10% of the leaf drop occurs. There are usually ~9 days from beginning R6 stage to R6.5 stage.
For corn, it’s not as clear cut as to when it is best to do what with which cover crops. The general idea is to wait until the corn canopy would be a week or two away from starting to “open up” and let sunlight in. This suggests anywhere from just past half-milk line to initial black layer. The overriding factor is soil moisture, and not so much whether its half-milk line or black layer. After initial black layer the canopy will start opening up allowing sunlight to penetrate to the germinating/emerging cover crop.
As far as what cover crops and seeding rates, the possible combinations are boundless. If this management is new to you, start simple. NRCS has a basic publication on cover crops with suggested seeding rates and seeding windows. Go to nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs142p2_005818.pdf For those looking for more comprehensive information on cover crops, the “catch-all” website is the Midwest Cover Crops Council homepage mccc.msu.edu/.
Comments on Crop and Concern
This has been a year filled with tremendous opportunity to raise outstanding corn and soybean crops, but also a year that will yield disappointing results in some fields or parts of fields. As I walk through corn fields and see dramatically different yield potential in adjacent areas, I am reminded of the need to control compaction, control weeds, apply timely and adequate N, control insects and foliar disease, and choose hybrids with a good balance of yield stability and adequate agronomics. We are seeing problems with either a single application of N (such as injected manure) or surface applied N. These differences are magnified on corn-on-corn ground that could use better drainage. Due to a mild winter, insect survival was high and we did not break the compaction which occurred during harvest or manure application, or tillage. Now is a good time to create a cost effective plan for 2017, which addresses insect concerns, compaction, poor drainage or fertility concerns which were observed in 2016.
Iowa is currently running about 230 heat units above normal this year and rainfall varies from slightly drier than normal to 10+ inches above normal. Due to the combination of early planting and Diplodia root rot leading to premature death and stalk rot, we are starting to see many corn hybrids mature and/or start to die prematurely. When a plant dies, black layer forms immediately so be careful not to confuse normal blacklayer (physiological maturity) with premature death. Silage harvest is behind schedule in many places due to wet fields, but it needs to be done soon to insure the best silage quality. We are at blacklayer with many 106-108 day hybrids around Iowa City and Cedar Rapids and some 114 day hybrids will be at blacklayer by September 1, so frost will not be an issue this year and some farmers could be done harvesting in September or early October. To maximize yield and profit, harvest should begin in the low 20 to 25% range. Soybeans seem a little behind corn on a relative scale and they have many pods left to fill, which will really benefit from the recent rains, unless SDS, BSR or White Mold lead to early death.
I feel we may not quite reach the yield potential forecast for Eastern Iowa due to lighter kernel weight, as many plants reached maturity too quickly this year. Typically the highest yields occur in cooler years with longer grain fill periods. In some fields we also limited yield due to less than optimum plant available N and disease control this year. Kernel counts are generally very good for early planted corn, but some later planted corn tipped back quite severely due to excess heat during pollination and early grain fill. Yield formulas are highly dependent on using the right kernel weight factor (.85 +- .5 on the slide rule) and getting an accurate sample of harvestable ears for the field (including adequately representing the poor areas or planits). In summary, there clearly will be some outstanding yields in many corn fields, but variability will be considerable and timely harvest may be critical to prevent field loss. Healthy soybean fields appear to have tremendous yield potential if all pods are filled, but SDS will curtail yields in many fields.
Scout your fields for stalk quality issues and schedule harvest according to the risk of stalk and root rot. Also scout for kernel and ear rot diseases, which are prevalent this year. High risk fields include fields with inadequate N (excessive firing) or with disease infested hybrids. Your largest eared hybrids, which tend to pull extra photosynthate from the stalk, are also good choices to harvest first. If you want help in assessing your fields (regardless of the brand of corn), please contact your dealer or the Miller Hybrids office for a Miller Hybrids seed expert.
Miller Corn Research
Miller Hybrids research is conducted under variable conditions to allow the identification of hybrids that can tolerate the stresses that are typical in your fields. In 2016 there are 4 main research sites in Iowa, one in central Illinois and two satellite sites in N. Illinois. Sites include corn-on-corn and we have soils ranging from sandy to tight black soil. Three sites were sprayed with fungicides. Our plan is to understand hybrids so that when we recommend them for your farm, you will be pleasantly surprised. We strive to understand hybrid characteristics from our research and from your fields, and then to add to our portfolio the highest performing and well understood hybrids that are needed to maximize your financial return per corn acre.
We focus on genetics first and traits second, as we are determined to provide you what you want for your farm. Many people have been pleased with a Roundup® or glyphosate weed control program on corn because it is “cheap” and easy. With “generic-Roundup” at bargain prices, it is cheap until you also consider technology fees and the earlier onset of weed resistance. Miller Hybrids has an excellent set of stacked hybrids and refuge hybrids for those of you who choose a glyphosate option or for those who don’t. We offer an industry leading set of hybrids for those who plan to use a conventional herbicide option or Liberty® or glufosinate herbicides. If you are considering corn-on-corn and want to control volunteer corn from this year’s Roundup tolerant corn, we have you covered with a set of Liberty Link® corn borer and rootworm traited hybrids.
We have a diverse and high performance set of Roundup 2 Yield®, Roundup Extend® (Roundup+Banvel tolerance), Liberty and conventional trait options. We also carry a few excellent economy priced glyphosate tolerant (GT) soybeans which are consistent performers. Also, be sure to call Miller Hybrids for your alfalfa, forage, and cover crop needs this fall.
Miller Hybrids has programs which reward loyalty and growth with our current customers. We have a new customer program which provides free soybean seed when a planter-full each of 2 or 3 corn hybrids are planted. We have an attractive prepay discount schedule with maximum discounts if paid by September 15, as well as an interest free financing program until January.
If you or anyone you know is looking for an independent seed company, who truly wants to place your needs before ours, please give us a call. We would appreciate the opportunity to spend time discussing hybrids with you at one of our show plots or in local fields at your convenience. Our goal is to understand your farm and help reduce your cost per bushel, by putting together the right hybrid and trait package for you. You can also visit us on the web at www.millerhybrids.com or reach the office at 319-656-2532 or toll free at 866-946-CORN. Your success in 2017 starts with the choice of the right seed and seed partner. We would be honored if you choose us as a seed partner and thank our loyal customers who have done so!
Farm Progress Show!
Visit the Miller Hybrids booth in the SE corner of the Farm Progress Show the next 3 days (8/30-9/1) and register for a chance to win a 40” TV or a meal. Call us for a free pass to get in (limited quantity of passes available).
The website PlantManagementNetwork.org has a great collection of useful and educational webcasts. We found their "Focus on Corn" and "Focus on Soybeans" pages especially helpful. Do something educational and watch one of their webcasts today!
Farm Bureau recently posted a link to a dataset that helps show Growing Degree Day information and multi-year/location data. Check it out here:
Interesting Start to July
2016 is turning out to be an interesting year with good yield potential as of July 1. The nice early April weather allowed much planting to be completed in the mid-April time frame. Late April turned cold and wet, which challenged the emergence of some corn planted April 22 through 25. Some replant was needed for corn planted during this window and some pythium root rot occurred in the corn that struggled with emergence. Corn planted May 5th or later, generally looks good in Eastern Iowa. Warmer than normal temperatures persisted till mid-June allowing corn to rapidly progress. For example, our show plot at the Miller Hybrids office, which was planted April 23, had the first corn silking on June 30, about 10 days ahead of normal. There were a few multiple-inch rains in some fields in late May and late June which caused significant Nitrogen loss, while some Southern and Central Iowa areas have suffered drought stress. Disease development was initially slow, but because of recent rains, conditions are now highly favorable for disease in many fields. Weed control was a challenge due to cool early temperatures and excess heat later, making herbicide uptake difficult. It was also a difficult year to kill cover crops, leading to some competition for nutrients.
Some European Corn Borer Moths and Corn Rootworm (CRW) beetles have been observed recently. For CRW beetles, be sure to scout at silk emergence to determine if there is a need to spray insecticide to prevent silk clipping and pollen feeding, especially on late planted or uneven emerging corn. We observed significant first generation European Corn Borer (ECB) on conventional or herbicide only refuge corn in June. The second generation is getting started already and it often will attack your later planted corn. If an insecticide is needed, we suggest combining it with a fungicide application due to the current ideal conditions for disease development. I recommend close monitoring for silk or pollen feeding and quick insecticidal treatment if damage is observed. This is also a key time frame for Western Bean Cutworm (WBC) flights. WBC can be quite damaging to the yield and grain quality unless you spray or have genetic control (Agrisure Viptera®, or hybrids containing the Herculex1 gene for example). Contact Miller Hybrids for assistance in scouting or digging roots to observe CRW feeding.
Continue to scout soybeans for aphids and spray with an insecticide if aphids are at threshold levels. Aphids may also increase the damage from nematodes (ISU verbal communication).
This may be a troublesome year for weed control in many fields, due to herbicide tolerance or due to cool early temperatures and excess heat later, which both made herbicide uptake difficult. It was also a difficult year to kill cover crops, leading to some competition for nutrients in fields with unkilled cereal rye. This year, it appears that a two or even three pass chemical program may be needed in some fields to adequately control weeds. Late application of herbicides in corn requires the use of drops with proper sprayer tips and proper additives to get the job done without crop injury. Only Miller Hybrids corn varieties which have a “G” (for Glyphosate) or Roeschley Hybrids varieties with VT2P, VT3P, SS or G, in the hybrid name, can be sprayed with Roundup® or Glyphosate. Contact your chemical representative for proper advice on rescue herbicides.
This year we have observed a limited amount of Common Rust is present on corn leaves and we have seen the start of Northern Corn Leaf Blight and Grey Leaf Spot (GLS), although in general leaf diseases have been slow to develop. However, due to the recent rains and heavy dews, I expect this could be a year with a high incidence of leaf disease. The high incidence of Northern Corn Leaf Blight (NCLB) in 2015 left a lot of inoculum on residue and could set us up for a disease problem again this year. I am still inclined to apply Headline AMP® or a similar fungicide in heavy residue fields, corn-on-corn, low lying fields and on hybrids which are more fungicide responsive for yield and standability. A greater economic advantage exists for fungicide application, if you already need to apply an insecticide. We feel the ideal time to spray a fungicide on corn is around the first brown silk, however if CRW or Japanese Beetle clipping of corn silk occurs, I would apply the fungicide with an insecticide during flowering, just don’t use an adjuvant if applying fungicide during silking.
Goss’s Wilt (GW) is a bacterial disease which won’t be controlled by fungicides, except for the fact that fungicides will keep the plant healthier overall. GW lesions can be quite large and are irregular shaped and appear water-soaked. Infection by GW bacteria require an open wound or leaf tear and will be worse in high residue continuous-corn fields which experienced hail or wind damage. The most effective control options are crop rotation or planting a tolerant corn variety. Goss’s Wilt is slowed by hot, dry conditions.
Soybean diseases including Sclerotinia White Mold (SWM) and Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) could be prevalent this year and fungicidal control may be justified for SWM at R1 to R3. Miller Hybrids sells a Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN) seed treatment from Syngenta® called Clariva®, which in addition to excellent nematode control, it can help in reducing Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) fungal infection, which is worsened when nematode damage is high. The conditions appear right in 2016 for a potentially high level of SDS in soybeans in fields where saturation of soils during early flower occurred. SDS management includes SCN control, improved drainage, and planting highly tolerant varieties (true resistance does not appear to exist). Many of the soybean varieties Miller Hybrids sell, have excellent SWM and SDS tolerance scores.
Products, Programs and Contacts
Several new elite varieties are being produced by Miller Hybrids for the 2017 sales year. Miller Hybrids offers an excellent portfolio of unique corn hybrids with herbicide and insecticide trait options, focused in the 90 to 115 day market, as well as elite new conventional corn varieties. Miller Hybrids is the exclusive provider of Roeschley Hybrids™ soybeans in Iowa and Wisconsin with varieties specifically chosen by Miller Hybrids. Miller Hybrids Alfalfa continues to offer excellent value, beginning with two elite fine stemmed hybrid varieties ,MA-379HY/BR and Profusion, and a high yielding fine-stemmed standard variety called Seneca.
We will offer available seed at 2016 prices with a 12% prepay discount if purchased in July, 2016. This will also guarantee you our lowest price. Please return the pallets or boxes we delivered or call us for pickup.
Miller Hybrids team of seed experts are available to visit your fields, answer questions, and provide profitable solutions that fit your farming operation. Visit www.millerhybrids.com or call us toll-free at 866-946-CORN, or in Iowa call Bob Miller 319-325-6158, Brock Adrian 319-530-6505, Clayton Hester 641-295-4963, Dave Vyrostek 515-360-3045 or Denny DenHartog at 563-940-2744. In northern Illinois call Steve Pfile 815-449-2573, in East Central Illinois call David Brint 309-255-9010, or in central Wisconsin call Mike Read 920-918-2220. Let us work with you to provide the right seed solution for the way you farm.
Chris DiFonzo, Field Crops Entomologist from Michigan State University, recently created a document that helps us understand how Bt traits compare. Take a look, it could make things a lot more clear and give you a hand up when making decisions around hybrid choices.
Follow this LINK to the publication.
It is an important time to be scouting your corn for Black Cutworm. The Southern 1/3 of Iowa is in prime cutting time right now with the Central area starting to be a problem and the Northern 1/3 of Iowa just starting. The worst problems are occurring in corn which doesn’t carry the SmartStax, Herculex or Viptera genes. The corn planted in early to mid April is showing the most vulnerability, especially if there were weedy areas when egg laying occurred.
The best solution, if significant cutting is observed, is to spray with an effective foliar insecticide that your chemical supplier will suggest. Cutting can progress rapidly, so a rapid spray response is needed. Next year I suggest planting corn with good Broad Lepidoptera resistance genes, such as Viptera. Feel free to call your seed sales representative or Bob Miller 319-325-6158 of Miller Hybrids for assistance.
The two pictures below are of plants showing signs of early death along with a cut plant. In wetter areas Pythium root rot is also killing some small plants, however the shoots on a cut plant will tend to be white and healthy vs the brown and slimy shoot.
This aerial shot of one of our research fields near Wellman, Iowa last summer really helps to show the complexity of hybrid research! Can you imagine trying to plant all those different varieties with your planter? Talk about a headache!
Leave the research to us, we enjoy the process and are happy when what we learn and our successes turn into new hybrids that bring you success on the farm.
Thanks again for working with us at Miller Hybrids! We'll be thinking of you busy planting your farm as we're busy planting ours.
We just recorded 2 new radio ads! Check them out and then give us a call when you hear them on the radio. We'd love to hear from you!