Last week I had the opportunity to go to KARA Field Day. This event was held at K-state and consisted of several seminars that covered anything from insect and weed management to new technologies in Agriculture. The purpose of this field day is to inform agronomist and certified crop advisors (CCA) about current issues in agronomy. One of the more interesting sessions was one on precision agriculture. In the session it talked about new yield monitor technology, Variable-rate seeding and fertilizer, as well as drone technology. The new yield monitor tech promises to be more accurate then the older generation, which allows this data to be utilized much more. Producers can then variable rate their plant population and fertilizer based on the yield data from the monitor as well as other data. This can be done continuously as the producer is going through the field. This allows producers to plant higher populations and fertilizer more in more productive ground and visa versa in lower productive ground. While yield data and variable rate tech is great another technology that can aid in crop scouting and mid-season decision-making is drone technology. Drones are used to scout fields for disease, weeds, insects, and other problems more quickly then by foot. This allows farmers to change management based on agriculture pressures that may pop up. In addition to this drone cameras can also be modified to produce images in the near infrared spectrum. The reason this is important is it can give you an estimate of how healthy plants are depending on how much near infrared rays the camera reads. This can show plant health stress even before visible signs show the stress. Overall these new technologies look to make agriculture more efficient and increase crop yields overall.
As temperatures have been on the rise this past week you may have noticed corn starting to react to the temperatures. Because of the hot temperature corn may begin to curl its leaves during the hottest part of the day in order to conserve moisture. By conserving moisture it will also begin to slow transpiration rates in the plant, which means it will start to grow less quickly. This slowing of transpiration decreases the rate of photosynthesis in the plant meaning less sugars are produced, which limits its growth. The thing is that different varieties respond differently to heat and some will curl their leaves quicker than others. A quicker response can be a bad thing if the heat and/or drought stress ends relatively quickly because this means that growth was limited during that short time. On the flip side it can also be a good thing if the stress persists for a long time. This is because the plant is attempting to conserve water, so, if a plant is fast to leaf curl this means that it has been more efficient with its water, which leads to a higher yield. This is something that varies from hybrid to hybrid and different hybrids have different resistances to heat stress. Some hybrids could have leaf curling very severely but end up yielding rather high if it has a high tolerance for heat. All in all the amount of heat damage is related to the length of high temperatures and low rainfall as well as the hybrid of choice.
These last few weeks at Harveyville seed have been a huge learning experience for me and hopefully for the different producers in the area as well. This past week I had the opportunity to put in a nitrogen and micronutrient plot. This included several different products that were foliar applied with herbicides. In all, five different test trips and one check/control strip were made. Symbol release was applied in the first test trip, which is a micronutrient product with sulfur, boron, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc. SRN 25B was applied next, which is a slow release nitrogen product with boron. Test trip three had Symbol and SRN 25B applied together. The fourth had Smart Trio applied, which contains nitrogen, sulfur, boron, manganese, and zinc. The last trip was another application of Symbol Release. Because of the year I look to see a large response from the different applications of nitrogen. SRN 25 B I look to be very beneficial to the plot and my prediction is that the trips with it applied will yield the most.
Also this week I had the opportunity to look at corn that had experienced hail damage as well as some corn that had standing water on it. The hail-damaged corn appeared to be damaged rather badly but luckily the plant was not damaged below the growing point. (Pictures are attached below) This means that it should recover in a few weeks with only around a 10% deduction on yield.
The drowned out corn is different story. In the low spots of fields it is rather apparent that the plants are starving for nitrogen and should have a side dress application of N. If they do not receive this it likely that losses will be 90% or more in these areas. All in all, the wet weather has been very hard on plants because of the loss of nitrogen.
With the wet cool weather we have been experiencing, disease pressure among Kansas crops could become a bigger issue then normal. Fungi cause most crop diseases and growth of these organisms are favored by wet conditions. Diseases can be a yield-robbing problem by causing damage to the foliage of the plant or by directly affecting the grain of the crops. There are many classifications of diseases and include mildews, rusts, smuts, blights, galls as well as others. Mildews typically look like a white fuzzy area that appears on the leaves or stem. This fuzz is actually part of the fungal pathogen itself. Rusts appear as red or orange lesions or pustules on the plant. Smuts are sooty gray or white fungal growth that many times affects the reproductive parts of plants. Blights are dead leaf or stem tissues as well as wilting that are caused by pathogens. Galls are tumors in a plant of increased foliage growth that are caused by fungi, which can affect healthy plant growth. Good news is that many of the times these types of diseases can be prevented either early application of fungicides or a later application typically just before the reproductive stage of the plant. Also other ways of preventing an infection from happening is by selecting a resistant variety to the disease in question. Also cultural control measures such as crop rotation, good planting timing, and proper field drainage are also factors that could help to prevent an infection.
Northeast Kansas has been experiencing an unusually wet and cool weather pattern. Over 15 inches of rain has fallen in Osage City in the months of April and May. This is over 6 inches more then the average rainfall during these months. These abnormal conditions have lead to corn exhibiting unusual yellowing that looks very similar to nitrogen deficiency. Because of the large amount of rainfall and the cooler days the corn has not been able to absorb enough nitrogen efficiently thus leading to the lighter green color of the plant. This appearance of the corn is much more apparent in younger plants which have a less developed root system. Luckily for producers this yellowing color and stress will have no direct effect on the yield until after leaf stage 5. Typically the plant will green up once warm weather sets in and crop growth will return to normal. There is a small chance though in more sandy soils that nitrogen did leach below the root zone and may be unavailable to the plant. Also in heavier clay type soils, N may have escaped into the atmosphere due bacteria undergoing denitrification. This process generally takes place in the absence of oxygen and rain saturated conditions causing oxygen to be less abundant in the soil thus increasing denitrification rates. Both of these processes could uncharacteristically increase N loss early in the season and applying side-dress fertilizer could be an option for some soils. These conditions also show products such as N-Serve from Dow AgroSciences and other nitrogen stabilizers could work to help prevent the loss of N due to the denitrifying bacteria.
Hello, my name is Chisholm Miller and I have recently started an agronomy internship with Harveyville Seed Company. I have just graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in Agronomy and am originally from Dover, Kansas. Being fresh out of school I look to apply what I have learned at K-State with Harveyville Seed Co. I am excited to help with agronomic problems and decisions and to be a resource for the Harveyville area. As well as helping with these problems, keeping producers and customers of HSC informed of current agriculture issues in the area is also something that would be beneficial. Throughout the summer I will regularly post articles that inform producers of crop problems, new products, and general “how does it work” topics. I hope that these short posts will help to update you on new innovations in agriculture as well as to inform you more on what exactly goes on in bringing a seed from planting to harvest.
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