The dry conditions in some areas of Iowa in 2017 have raised several soil fertility questions. In some cases, there has been relatively normal crop production and no need for management changes. In other situations with severely damaged crops, there is potential for adjustments for the 2018 corn crop.
Integrated Crop Management News
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With some farmers gaining interest in using cover crops, there are questions about possible pests that may develop when introducing new plants on the farm. Consider these insect-related issues when planting crops in the fall. Hessian fly (Photo 1) is a potentially destructive pest in winter wheat; however, cultural control can minimize the potential damage and economic loss.
Although generally good, corn and soybean crops are quite variable across Iowa as harvest season approaches. Spotty rainfall, in many cases too little but in a few cases too much, along with sandy or clay soil spots, and temperature extremes or storms have resulted in varying ear, and bean pod and stalk sizes, both among nearby fields and in some cases within fields or even individual rows. Such variations put a premium on combine adjustment this fall.
Drought conditions during most of the growing season in Iowa can have a profound impact on soil heath, just as when we have extreme wet conditions. The effect of drought can be noticed very clearly on crop performance when the lack of water availability is severe. This water stress can affect soil chemical, physical, and biological activities that are essential for plant and soil health.
It’s that time of year when corn yield estimations increase. The USDA NASS objective yield survey came out on August 17. This report indicates the third highest yield on record (behind 2016 and 2015) at 188 bushels per acre. Moderate to severe drought conditions are undoubtedly the cause for the reduced yields in Iowa this year. It should be expected that there will be large variation in yield within fields but also from one field to the next depending on hybrid selection, date of planting, and field uniformity.
Dry conditions this summer in some parts of Iowa will result in low and variable crop yield. Low or variable crop growth and yield significantly affect phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) uptake and removal with harvest. If dry conditions continue into the fall soil sampling season soil-test P, K, and pH results also may be affected complicating test interpretations.
A farmer in Osceola County recently found a single Palmer amaranth in a soybean field. He removed and burned the offending plant. This brings the ‘official’ ISU count of infested counties to 50. As we’ve stressed before, Palmer amaranth is likely in many more counties than reported to us.
As of July 20, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) had received 142 cases of pesticide misuse, historically this number has ranged from 58-85 at this time of year. Dicamba was involved in 46 of these cases. Two of the dicamba cases involved use in non-crop areas, 10 involved applications on corn and 36 were related to applications to dicamba-resistant soybean (Xtend). The soybean cases were nearly evenly split between Xtendimax w/VGT and Engenia, there were no reports involving products not registered for use on soybean. Cases a
A few places in southern and northwestern Iowa have already reported twospotted spider mite populations with prolonged feeding in soybean this year. I recommend scouting corn and soybean fields for mite infestations because they thrive in hot and dry conditions. The U.S. Drought Monitor estimates about 80 percent of Iowa is abnormally dry or in a severe drought as of July 18, 2017.
Water is extremely important for crop production. When water becomes limiting to the plant it is important to understand how plants use water. We often hear the term evapotranspiration (ET) in relation to plant water demand. ET is a combination of soil water evaporation (E) and water used by the plant during transpiration (T). Soil evaporation is the major loss of water surface and typically is higher after rain and under high temperature conditions.