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Monday, February 27, 2017

When to Plant Corn

Sorry I have been away.  Influenza A is the culprit.

Warm and dry weather has many farmers anxious to plant.  In some ways conditions seem similar to 2012, although in 2012, the drought began in 2011.

In general, early planting is one way to combat drought.  Get the corn pollinated before weather gets extreme.  In my opinion, April 1 is considered early in Central Illinois.  If soil conditions are favorable, starting planting the last week of March is pushing the envelope, but may be OK depending on the 15 day forecast.

In 2012, I know there was corn planted as early as March 9.  The yields on that corn was disappointing.  I think the problem was frost in mid-April.  Frost in in mid-April is not uncommon.  My meteorologist tells me that was dry  weather does not reduce the chances of a mid-April frost, so in deciding when to plant you need to consider the potential for frost.  Modern corn hybrids seem to be much more tolerant of cold conditions and even frost, but when the frost gets to the growing point, it can do damage  even if it does not kill the plant.  The growing point seems to move above ground as the corn grows from V3 to V4 according to Dr. Nielsen's Illustrations.

Warm and dry weather will speed up germination and emergence, so that could be a factor in determining ideal planting date.

Another factor to consider is fluffy soil syndrome.  The syndrome is discussed in the latest Journ of Soil and Water Conservation.  Fluffy soil syndrome will cause uneven emergence which can reduce yields.  Tilling shallow or not at all can help avoid the issue.  Tilling deeper in dry weather creates pockets of variable moisture that can cause uneven stands.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Should You Split Your Nitrogen Application?

Emerson Nafiziger discussed likely changes in removal rates for P and K at this year's crop management conference. Removal is not a good way to make fertility decisions.  You need to know what you have.

He also briefly discussed return to Nitrogen Dollars.  At least in 2016, split applications did not pay. Maximun return to N was at relatively low rates.  Check out his comments on nitrogen.  I would not change my application method because of this research, but you might want to look at the Nrate calculator to help in your rate decision.  My recommendation would be to go to the high side of the chart.

If you are applying Nitrogen right now you should be treating it as a fall application and use inhibitor.  A warm wet March would denitrify a lot of N.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Cover Crops and USDA.

In past years, using cover crops and crop insurance had sometimes been in conflict.  These issues had been addressed, but USDA recently came out with new guidelines that clear things up and seem to fit into most management situations.  It you go to the USDA cropland page  and look on the left side of the page to click on the Cover Crops Termination Guidelines, you will get a download that tells you all the rules.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Climate Change

At the crop management conference, we heard from Jim Angel, Illinois Climatologist.  Angel presented some compelling evidence that our climate has changed for the  warmer over the past 100 years.  His opinion is that some of this change is man induced.  That is not  a huge stretch considering that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has tripled since the beginning o the industrial revolution.  Not all of that has been from burning fossil fuels.  Farming more land than ever has contributed  too, because of the breakdown of organic matter.

I did not get to discuss the issue with Mr. Angel, but I have not heard from anyone as to how much carbon dioxide we need to sequester to reverse the trend.  I also have not heard. What is the cost?

It  seems there are some positive developments from climate change.  Carbon dioxide may be increasing crop yields.  It may be an advantage that the corn belt is moving north.

Global Temperatures since 1900.  

Monday, February 6, 2017

No-till Challenges

Everyone who No-tills faces challenges that their neighbors don't face.  Finding what works for you can require a good deal of experimentation.  In the modern world, covercrops can be a part of the formula that works.  A Wisconsin farmer overcomes some of his challenges with 4 keys to success.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Seed Emmergence

Yesterday we attended a program put on by Linco-Precision.  They put together one of the top one day meetings I have been to.  One of the presentations was on seed emergence in corn.  They presented data that suggests that the closer together in time that corn plants emerge for the soil, the better the yields.  The research numbers were more than significant. One of the biggest factors controlling emergence was the evenness of soil moisture.  They did not arrive at the same conclusion that I did, but they do tell you  how to achieve results.  It looks to me like you would be most likely to encounter even moisture conditions under No-Till or stale seedbed.  Prairie Farmer entitled their article, No Ear Left Behind.