Agronomists bore into beetles and big crops

IVESDALE, Ill. – The AgriGold Specialty Products Conference covered a lot of territory, from futuristic technology to current crop conditions.

A panel of AgriGold agronomists discussed what they were seeing in their respective territories, covering everything from planting dates to what types of corn farmers are planting.

Agronomists Joey Heneghan, whose territory includes southern Wisconsin and northwest Illinois; Mike Kavanaugh, who works in Indiana; Terry Mente, whose territory includes eastern Iowa; and Todd Steinacher, whose territory includes central and western Illinois, gave the perspective from their territories.

Planting Date

Heneghan: We didn’t have an early start or a fast start, but actually had a pretty timely overall planting season. I still have corn that’s V3 to V4, barely even halfway up my shin, corn that’s waist-high and corn that’s closing in on head high in certain areas. We’ve had those timely rains that have covered up a lot of sins that might have been committed at planting.

Kavanaugh: As we think about the eastern Corn Belt, Indiana and Ohio, obviously a lot of farmers were getting very frustrated, especially with the wet conditions in April. A lot of folks had to sit on their hands through April. Once we finally got started, around April 20, 21, in southern Indiana, it moved north and east into Ohio. Really not a lot of issues once the planters got rolling, not a lot of issues for the most part, seemed like stands were pretty solid.

Mente: I would say you can divide Iowa up into three tiers — that southern tier, which really didn’t start until the end of April, early May, then you get that middle section, which they were about the next week, then the folks to the north, they’ve been dodging rains left and right, another 20 to 21 percent got planted in that third week of May, so I would say it took longer than normal to get it planted.

Steinacher: There were fields planted in that late March timeframe, the river bottoms in the Pike and Adams county area and Cass County, as well. Emergence overall was very consistent. The last couple of years, we had a lot of issues where emergence was spread out over four, five, six days, and you really had a lot of variability in the crop. Most fields I’ve walked this spring have really good emergence scores and really good stand counts.

Nitrogen Availability

Heneghan: We had 7 inches of snow at my house in Madison, Wisconsin, on April 18 and 19. Ten days after we had that snow, we had almost perfect field conditions, albeit still cool. We had guys in the fields planting, but that didn’t leave a lot of time for early season fertilizer applications, but we did see a lot go out later.

Kavanaugh: My biggest concern right now as we look into the future is how much moisture we could potentially get. Let’s just say a grower went out and put 200 pounds of actual N on. You could figure a pound per bushel. He’s got a lot of areas making well above that. My concern is that we are going to have enough, not just in the eastern Corn Belt, but across the whole Corn Belt.

Mente: I hope we get a lot of limp-along little rains to keep everything looking nice, and it’s just a matter of how far down did that nitrogen get shoved. Right now, we’re tracking to see how much rain comes along and pushes that nitrogen where it can be used.

Steinacher: I have started seeing a lot more nitrogen deficiency showing up, maybe more on some lighter soils that are tight, low organic matter. We do have a good big crop potentially out here, and we just need to make sure we have adequate nitrogen to supply it.

Disease Pressure

Heneghan: We’re still closing canopy right now, so a lot of those later season diseases, what I call affecting the factory or creating an ear, we’re just not there yet in our season. The past two years, we’ve had marked low disease pressure, with northern corn leaf blight, and the same with gray leaf spot.

Kavanaugh: I’ve been hearing reports of gray leaf spot popping up here and there. Some holcus leaf spot popping up in different areas, but really haven’t heard the latest on any rust. With (subtropical storm Alberto) coming in like it did from the south, the worry has been how much rust has been pulled up from the south.

Mente: The two that have shown up so far are a little bit of gray leaf spot, and that’s been down. With gray leaf, you probably see it, the lesions, a leaf and a half below where the infection actually is. If I see a little bit on the bottom leaves, I’m not real worried. When it starts jumping, that’s when I really pay attention.

Steinacher: I’m seeing gray leaf spot pop up in the lower canopy. I’ve seen it more in the southern part of my territory, near St. Louis. In the Macomb area, it was hard to find, but it was definitely out there, so it’s going to keep creeping up the plant.

Fungicide Use

Heneghan: Neither gray leaf spot nor northern corn leaf blight has been bad for me the last two years, and at this point in this year, it’s too early to tell.

Kavanaugh: My answer on fungicide is if you are in a medium to high yield environment, spray it. It’s yield preservation and not necessarily yield enhancement. We’re going to be recommending a lot of fungicide. With the recipe of lots of moisture, lots of heat, that’s a recipe for humidity. Lots of humidity means lots of disease, and we might as well protect and preserve what we have.

Mente: I’m a tightwad. If you want to get the top end yield, you’re going to need it. But I want to see that disease getting going and the disease triangle, the host, corn, the disease and then you need the environment. That’s why a lot of people don’t like to stick their necks out because they don’t know what it’s going to be like two weeks from now.

Steinacher: I think on beans it’s pretty well proven that you spray beans and there’s a huge response to it. In corn, you’ve got to be very selective with it. If we are in a high yielding environment where we need to protect yield, that’s the biggest thing with fungicides. All it’s going to do is protect your top-end yield.


Heneghan: My southern edge is just a week or so away from starting to shoot their first tassels. We’ve got a couple of weeks to a month everywhere else.

Kavanaugh: We used to say “knee-high by the Fourth of July.” Many people grew up hearing that, and now it seems like if this crop isn’t tasseled out by the Fourth of July, there’s something wrong.

Mente: It’s really spread out.

Steinacher: I would say in the Jersey County area, there have been tassels out this past week and the same for the river bottoms in Cass County, Adams County area, the tassels are outright now. Other stuff is three to four leaves out from the flyleaf tassel. Then you have the later stuff that’s probably five to six leaves out and will be in pollination by the end of the month.

Corn Rootworm

Heneghan: A lot of our customers are still set up to do soil-applied insecticides with it and a lot of them scout and know where the pressure is, but we have just had pretty low corn rootworm pressure the last couple of years.

Kavanaugh: Corn rootworm has not disappeared. As far as a massive resurgence, I can’t say we’re seeing a massive resurgence right now. As you look across the map, there are different hot pockets. Areas throughout Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, I think there’s a hot pocket in central Illinois, north of Champaign.

Mente: There are many different ways to attack that insect and I think more than anything else, there are some new traits being pushed forward and I think it just gets you back to the fact that any singular trait out there is not going to hold up in the most severe of areas.

Steinacher: The heart of my territory, in Sangamon County, a lot of corn on corn acres and you don’t really see a lot of scarring on root issues as much as we used to, not really floating a lot, but when you go out there in mid pollination, those fields are just loaded with rootworm beetle adults. Even though a lot of the traps aren’t finding any, there are a lot of adults out there, and those adults are going to go lay eggs somewhere.

Conventional Corn Vs. Traited Corn

Heneghan: We do have a fair amount of conventional corn across the area that I cover. Some of the districts I cover are 50 percent conventional corn sales.

Kavanaugh: As far as conventional acres, we sell a lot of conventional corn. Is it increasing? It seems like it increases a little bit every year.

Mente: I would say we have had some switching back and forth. With the rootworms on the downtick, I would say there’s less traited up stuff and more people giving a shot to doubles and to conventionals, just to see what they think, what kind of a margin they can make off the thing.

Steinacher: There are still guys using, even at minimum, a double prog to utilize some of that safety from the glyphosate. It depends on what the grower is going after, but we are definitely seeing more conventional corn sales, at least doubles.

2018 Corn Crop Yield Predictions

Heneghan: 173.9 bushels per acre.

Kavanaugh: 177 bushels per acre.

Mente: 171.53 bushels per acre.

Steinacher: 174.2 bushels per acre.

This article provided by NewsEdge.