Late-planted crops and extreme weather have played havoc with corn and soybeans in many regions, creating such problems as pest pressure, ear rot, lodging and other challenges.
For these reasons, late-season scouting until harvest can greatly benefit growers, says an expert at Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business. Such scouting can lead to better harvest management and provide keen insights into 2012 seed decisions.
"Each region of the U.S. has experienced some type of stress this growing season," says Chuck Bremer, Pioneer agronomy information manager. "For some, that means a late start for planting due to excessive rains while others experienced stress in the form of drought."
With many folks in Illinois getting a late start planting, a frost could damage the crop before it reaches black layer, Bremer adds. "Should this occur, growers could consider using their crop for high-moisture corn or silage for their livestock," he notes.
Drought conditions plagued areas across the South and Southeastern U.S. Growers in these areas should watch for Aspergillus flavus and Fusarium ear rots.
"The best way to avoid load rejection at the elevator due to Aspergillus flavus is to adjust the combine settings," Bremer says. "If growers suspect the disease, they should adjust their combines to reduce cracking of the grain. This includes adjusting the cylinders, turning up the air and adjusting the screens."
If the crop goes into feed, Fusarium can cause complications on the backend. The disease can continue to grow in storage following harvest and be can be toxic to livestock. Continuous monitoring is necessary.
Growers could possibly anticipate lodging in areas where crops were planted in less than optimum conditions and encountered drought stress. "Growers should pinch their stalks," Bremer says. "If the plant shows stress, growers need to schedule those fields for early harvest, if possible."
Another issue that continues to expand is Goss's wilt. The disease originated in Nebraska and continues to expand into Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and surrounding states. Plants with this disease commonly have lesions with wavy margins. The margins of lesions have a water-soaked appearance with black flecks within the lesions that cannot be rubbed off the plant tissue. Growers encountering the disease should consider a hybrid with Goss's wilt tolerance next season.
As the season progresses, growers in Illinois and Indiana should scout for sudden death syndrome (SDS) due to rains early in the growing season.
"SDS will show up in fields with prime soils. The plant will have yellowing and defoliation in the upper leaves," Bremer says. "Typically the disease is confined to an area and likely will not take an entire field."
If a grower sees SDS in a field, he or she should consider choosing a variety with high tolerance ratings to the disease for next year.
"Each growing season offers growers the opportunity to reflect and learn lessons," Bremer says. "It's a good time to gather data and use it to make informed seed purchases for the 2012 growing season."