What to Scout for in Corn During a Drought

After a rapid planting season, Steve Schany, AgriGold’s western agronomy manager, says less-than-ideal moisture across much of the Corn Belt is reason for concern about crop stands.

Schany; “Yes, I would say much of the Corn Belt is experiencing some form of drought. Agronomist all over can be heard talking about rootless corn syndrome, herbicide carryover, salt injury from NH3 and manure applications – just due to the overall dry soil conditions that a lot of people are experiencing.”

Each growing season brings unique pest and disease threats. Schany explains what farmers should be on the lookout for; “Well, the best thing a farmer can do is get out of the truck and get in the field as much as possible and be on the lookout for disease and pest pressure. Even in a drought, disease can take hold in a crop when high dew points are in play. And when it comes to drought, pest pressure can be inopportune just due to the stress it puts on the crop, as well. So, right now, I’m focused on looking for corn rootworm, cyst nematodes, and also the dark horse of a drought would be spider mites out there.”

Experts say tar spot thrives in wet conditions. Schany offers the outlook for tar spot this year; “Tar spot likes moderate temps and humid conditions, but don’t let that fool you. We saw its movement last year tracking to the west into new environments even in the face of a drought. So, tar spot is an aggressive disease, and you are always one week away from this taking hold within the field as long as conditions are right. So, top three management items for tar spot are going to be selecting tolerant hybrids, taking preventative fungicide measures, and then budgeting for multiple applications.”

He adds what should farmers keep in mind as the crop heads into the critical pollination period.

Schany; “The biggest thing I pay attention to right now is what our tissue sampling protocols taught me over the last few years about finishing a crop strong. So, the top two things that I’m going to be taking a look at is keeping those plants healthy and taking up nutrients all the way through black layer. And some of the things I want to focus on are nutrients that are going to help maximize that grain-fill period. Those top six nutrients that I’m looking for are nitrogen, phosphorus, boron, sulfur, zinc and copper.”

For more support getting the most out of your crops, visit AgriGold.com or reach out to your local AgriGold agronomist.

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