Staying on top of all the information and choices can be hard when it comes to herbicides and insect protection. Monsanto tried to make things a bit easier concerning their products. Check out their online trait comparison tool. We found it helpful and you might too:
Note: Monsanto is big on MOA's (Modes of Action) while Syngenta focuses on efficacy. They aren't directly comparable so you'll need a bit more information when looking at the whole gamut of options out there. Call a Miller Hybrids dealer to help walk through anything that needs more explanation. 319-656-2532.
Why were corn yields so high in many areas of the corn-belt in 2017, despite it being a dry year?
There are many reasons to explain the surprisingly good year in a large part of the corn-belt in 2017. Below are some of what I believe to be some of the main factors:
1) Due to an above normal rainfall pattern in the corn-belt in the spring, the soil profile was fully charged with water, as evidenced by tiles running most of the spring into early June.
2) Temperatures were cool and moisture was adequate up through the V8 stage of development, when maximum ear size was being developed and consequently, potential ear size was quite good.
3) Generally, June was quite dry and so roots followed the moist soil deep into the soil canopy where adequate moisture reserves lasted far after rains stopped. The dry June conditions also minimized plant health concerns and kept the upper root system healthy. This dry period also kept the vegetative plant growth shorter than normal, so there was a smaller factory to maintain in hot conditions.
4) Plants were moderate size due to photoperiod plant height response from early planting dates, cool temperatures in early development stages, and cloudy weather in May. This allowed for better breathability of the crop canopy and possibly less respiratory water loss during the extremely hot temperatures in late June through late July, which prevented pollination problems which are normally associated with hot, dry July weather. The smaller plants also utilized less energy to be maintained and could devote more to the grain.
5) Enough rain fell in late July and early August to recharge the topsoil; and due to the soil conditions, much of the rain in the drier areas was fully absorbed by the soil, instead of running off. This was a critical rain which also led to moderate temperatures, giving the corn plants a longer grain fill period.
6) August and much of September were cooler than normal, but since it was quite dry as well, there was less than normal cloud cover and an abundance of sunlight. Generally, cool temperatures are associated with rainy and cloudy weather, but this year we had an abundance of sunlight to go along with the extended grain fill period. This was ideal for photosynthesis and energy production without a lot of respiratory energy loss.
7) The drier late August and September were also able to minimize root rot development and so we had an active and healthy root system, deep into the soil. Consequently, deep kernel formation and heavier than normal test weights led to excellent yields, especially in healthy soils.
8) Hybrids also played a big role in 2017. The typical race-horse hybrids with a horizontal root pattern had the poorest “well” to survive the July heat and drought, and consequently did poorer in 2017. Hybrid selection during the drought years of 2012 and 2013 definitely helped us have the high yielding and deep-rooted stress tolerant hybrids we needed this year.
This year should help us to not take crop condition reports and early yield predictions too seriously in the future.
Why were wet spots, end rows, and compacted soils so much worse than the rest of the field this year?
This year anything done to compact or erode the soil, either last fall or in the spring, prevented deep root penetration and consequently had large negative effects around the pollination and early grain fill time when it was extremely hot and dry. It points out the need to be patient with tillage operations and planting.
Planting date was minor this year compared to the negative effect of compaction, and if anything, late planting worked great, as long as there was adequate soil moisture to plant into.
I also observed herbicide stress due to the “bleacher” herbicide class 27 products. They took a bigger toll on hybrids with great early vigor, which took up excess chemical and didn’t have the soil oxygen needed to metabolize during the wet conditions in late April and much of May.
Written by Bob Miller
PhD, Plant Breeding & Genetics, University of Illinois
Owner of Miller Hybrids, Inc.
Johnson Co. Iowa Farmer
A milestone was reached in 2017 when M09-01, a new 109 day unique, conventional hybrid averaged 300 bushels/acre (b/a) in a 16 replication trial across locations. It’s one thing to hit 300 b/a once or twice, but to average 300 b/a is fantastic, especially since in 2016 this same hybrid topped our trials at 280 b/a. At Coggon, Iowa this hybrid now has a 2-year average of 303 b/a. Several other commercial hybrids sold by Miller Hybrids and one competitor hybrid topped 280 b/a this year in trial averages. Here is the list of commercial hybrids in the 280 b/a club this year: M06-27, M06-96BGV, M08-06BGV, M10-61, Pioneer 1197AMX, RX12-70SS, RX08-97VT2P, M12-56 and M14-28BRG.
The most impressive part, is that these Iowa and Illinois research fields are spread across 7 locations and 3 maturity zones with a variety of soil types and field conditions, including 2 continuous corn locations. These fields were planted over a 4-week period and experienced a wide range of wind, temperature, and rainfall extremes. Hitting 300 b/a across diverse fields over years identifies winners that can bring our customers consistent performance and profit across the unknown variables they will experience in their fields in future years.
The future looks bright because we advanced 7 unique experimental hybrids with good agronomics that topped the 300 b/a mark in 2017. This was especially exciting since several of these hybrids contained parental lines that were first tested in the low yielding drought years we experienced in 2012 and 2013. These hybrids can be expected to perform in the future, no matter what heat and rainfall conditions are thrown at them.
A New Holland TR88 split-plot research combine was purchased in 2017, which allowed us to easily handle the yields and provide enhanced data quality, despite harvesting some high moisture and wind damaged corn.
Farmers definitely prefer years without crop damage from insects and weather, but plant breeders prefer these stresses to expose hybrid weaknesses and select stable hybrids that tolerate a range of these conditions. Not only was this year high yielding in our research plots, but due to a range of planting dates and weather patterns, some locations were extremely hot during pollination and early grain fill, while others were cool. Our Keystone, Iowa location was planted around Memorial Day and because of the growth stage the corn was at during July storms, significant mid-season root lodging and greensnap occurred in many hybrids. The Keystone field was our highest yielding location and had the highest harvest moisture, which allowed us to evaluate the drydown pattern of hybrids. Our long-term continuous corn location at Wellman, Iowa plot experienced significant rootworm feeding and health issues and demonstrated that stacked rootworm corn was higher yielding, better standing and healthier than non-rootworm traited corn hybrids. Something cool about the Wellman plot was that we identified several healthy, high yielding conventional hybrids such as M11-52, that performed well there despite not having a rootworm trait. Also at that location we were able to look at about 500 hybrids in replicated 8-row plots, where half of each plot got 50 extra pounds of nitrogen a week before flowering. This helped us understand the genetic differences for late N application response.
To sum it up for 2017, Miller Hybrids research plots were cumulatively the most informative and exciting corn research plots I, Bob Miller, have ever observed in 35 years of plant breeding. This type of information is invaluable in helping us advance stable hybrids that should fit the way you farm!
As we approach a potential late harvest, the effects of drought on the corn crop in southern Iowa, South Dakota, and other areas in the Midwest are evident. Concerns include ear tip back and potential stalk lodging. On the positive side, many areas of East Central and NE Iowa, N. Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan have gotten enough rain and crops are excellent, assuming we get enough time to mature the crop before frost. Corn rootworm beetles have been a concern in some fields, especially in continuous corn fields, while Japanese Beetles were troublesome in many areas in both corn and soybean fields. Refuge and conventional corn showed some European Corn Borer damage, but generally less than 2016. This may be a bad year for earworm, unless protected by the Agrisure Viptera® trait.
This year Common Rust is present in many fields, and we have seen the start of Grey Leaf Spot (GLS). Northern Corn Leaf Blight (NCLB) has been slow to develop in Southern and Central Iowa, partially due to warmer temperatures, however I have seen some NCLB in Northern Illinois, where it was cooler and wetter. Due to the recent moisture and humidity, I expect this will be a year with a high incidence of disease, including GLS. It also is a year where leaf tissue is at a premium, due to smaller total leaf area than normal. I am inclined to apply Headline AMP® or a similar fungicide in most corn and bean fields this year. I especially would consider applying fungicides to fields with high residue, fields following cover crops, corn-on-corn fields, low lying fields, or poorly drained fields. I also would apply fungicide to 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. Avoid using an adjuvant if applying fungicide before full silk.
Soybean diseases could be prevalent this year in areas with excess rain and fungicidal control may be justified, because we must preserve the limited soybean leaf area in 2017. White mold (WM) could be a problem in wetter fields, but WM may be reduced this year, as it appears soybeans could breathe better since soybeans are generally not be as big as normal.. Due to the high level of SDS last year, continue to monitor fields that are wet during early flower for SDS. SDS management involves seed treatments (Clariva® and ILevo®), improved drainage, and planting highly tolerant varieties such as 3155CRR2 and 2659CLL. We focus heavily on launching improved SDS and white mold soybean varieties.
Insects in corn and soybeans are considerable in some fields this year due to the mild winter. Many Japanese Beetles, and in corn-on-corn fields, a lot of Corn Rootworm (CRW) beetles have been observed this year. Be sure to scout at silk emergence in later planted or variable emerging fields to determine if there is a need to spray insecticide to prevent silk clipping and pollen feeding. If an insecticide is needed, we suggest combining it with a fungicide application due to the current ideal conditions for disease development. This is also a key timeframe for Western Bean Cutworm (WBC) flights. WBC can be quite damaging to the yield and grain quality unless you spray or have genetic control, such as Agrisure Viptera.
We are concerned about the high number of Japanese Beetles feeding in soybean fields as well, especially since many beans are smaller than normal because they struggled with a slow start due to often being too wet around planting and then before roots were well established it often turned off dry.
It also is a good time to do root digs to observe any rootworm feeding. Let us know by the end of July, if you planted Miller Hybrids corn containing a rootworm trait that did not adequately control corn rootworms, as there may be credit given to you from the genetic trait provider.
2017 has been another typical year of extreme weather in the Midwest.
We were generally cooler than normal and wet into late May, with SE Iowa having a drier than normal June and early July, although rains came to many areas July 9 and 10. Disease development was initially slow, but because of recent rains, conditions are now favorable for disease. Corn fields planted in April tended to be a little more erratic in emergence and often are 10% lower in population than normal. Corn planted early, generally rooted down and pollinated well, although the corn is often 20% smaller than usual. Corn planted in mid to late May, could struggle to pollinate well, due to the hot night time temperatures forecast for July 18 to 21.
Carefully monitor weed pressure and try to spray corn for weeds before they exceed 4” tall, as weed pressure can have a dramatic impact on potential corn yield.
If using Liberty herbicide, use drops if corn is above knee high. A good herbicide with residual control of waterhemp is recommended. If you used Glyphosate “GT or RR” tolerant corn last year which did not contain Liberty Tolerance and this year you have Liberty tolerance in your corn, spray Liberty now to remove volunteer corn (VC) as VC can significantly affect yield and rootworm control, even in corn carrying the RW gene.
Miller Hybrids is one of only a few companies that continue to carry elite Liberty Link corn.
Agrisure shared some great slides to help explain a few things about their products. Check it out...
The many windy days we have experienced may have brought disease spores from the South and although we are currently in a dry spell, disease spores are prevalent in decaying tissue. Be sure to continue to scout and monitor disease favoring conditions, once this dry spell breaks.
Fungicide costs are down significantly from a few years ago and most of our top producers have seen a nice return on investment by using fungicides. This is especially true in high yielding fields that are either corn-on-corn or which are planted to conventional corn.
Low lying fields are more vulnerable as well as fields planted to less disease susceptible varieties. Insecticides can be mixed with fungicides, but it is important to follow the correct protocol for fields near beehives.
Images courtesy of Google Image Search
Thoughts from Ph. D. Corn Breeder and Miller Hybrids Owner, Bob Miller.
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