Crop Progress: Western Corn Belt
Crop Progress in the Western Corn Belt
We have seen a wide variation of precipitation this growing season across the Western Corn Belt, and that is leading to a wide variation in crop conditions. Corn that was planted in the early window (and did not need to be replanted due to the cold stretch in mid-May) has finished pollination, and later planted corn is just getting to that point. Dryland acres in Colorado and SW Nebraska are really struggling, if not lost already, due to the severe-to-extreme drought across that area. There is another pocket of moderate drought that has developed more recently in the western half of Iowa into the NE corner of Nebraska, and we may see pollination issues due to silk delay on the later planted corn in these areas. Our PCR plots in the area have looked good for the most part, but we have seen some greensnap and root lodging from severe storms that have rolled across the area in the first part of July. There has been very good separation and opportunity to score the experimental hybrids prior to a potential release as a new LG Seeds product.
Soybeans have handled the high heat and drought stress alright for the most part, though we are seeing some shorter plant height in general this year. Weed control looks to be pretty good, as growers have done a good job with layering residuals and using multiple modes of action against tough weeds like Marestail, Tall Waterhemp, and Palmer. The typical soybean insects
Here is some more localized information from our LG Seeds Technical Team Agronomists:
Matt Teply – Eastern Colorado and Western Nebraska
Drought is the biggest talking point as we move through the middle of July. The majority of the irrigated corn acres are pollinating or just beginning pollination. Even in some of our irrigated acres we are seeing drought stress where wells are smaller or where soil types have restricted water holding capacity. Daily crop water use and E.T. rates are high, .30 to .35 and higher. Weekly water use is higher than most irrigation systems can apply in a week. Currently at my residence, I have received less than 6 inches of rain since January 1st. I received over 6 inches of precipitation in June of 2019. Even with the current challenges the irrigated corn crop looks to be trending for above average yields. The dry land corn crop on the other hand is not faring well. It’s all about local precipitation amounts. The crop for the most part is stressed, and yield trend is going down every day. Pollination varies greatly in the dry land acres but should happen over the next 10 to 14 days. Mother Nature is going to have to help us out a great deal on these acres.
The limited soybean crop out west is mostly on irrigated acres. Currently, things look good. The last week of July and the first 2 weeks of August make our soybean crop. It looks as though the weather is going to help us and yield trends currently would be above average. Again, Mother Nature is going to have to help us out some with this crop as well.
We have added some acres of grain sorghum this year, with the addition of our Golden Acres grain and forage sorghum portfolio to the LG Seeds Brand. With limited early precipitation we saw an increase in grain sorghum acres. Currently with limited looks at the crop I would say it’s an on average yield trend for the area.
Scott Dugan – Central Nebraska
Central Nebraska has some great looking fields but has been hit a few times over the last 3 weeks with severe storms that have brought some much-needed rain, but also hail and winds up to 80 mph.
Corn Stage - R1-R2: Since the majority of corn fields were nearing tassel at the time, this created a greensnap event that effected nearly every grower in some capacity. Corn disease: Gray leaf spot and Bacterial leaf streak are starting to come on in corn on corn situations. Corn insects: Corn rootworm beetles, Japanese Beetles, and Western Bean cutworm has been documented at thresholds levels already. Silk clipping is the biggest yield robbing concern if the field has not pollinated yet.
As for soybeans, stages vary but the average field is R2-R3. Soybean insects - thistle caterpillar, Japanese beetles, and bean leaf beetles are still doing damage so continue to scout. Soybean disease - Septoria Brown Spot and Frog eye leaf spot have been showing up the most in fields but not to thresholds yet.
Future Watchouts: It’s 2020, anything can happen!
Jamie Kathol – Northeast Nebraska
We are right in the middle of pollination on corn now and the beans are starting to put on pods. The north and east areas of our geography are dry currently while the other areas are sitting on pretty good ground moisture levels.
Disease pressure is low to this point in both corn and soybeans with no issues to speak of yet. I have heard of a couple reports of southern rust to our south in corn. We’re keeping an eye out for Tar Spot as it is reportedly moving west but have been fortunate not to find any yet.
There is no widespread insect issues to report for either crop at this time either. Has been a few reports of light thistle caterpillar and starting to see some gall midge beginning to show up in soybeans. Rootworm beetle trapping is just beginning so we will see how the infestation levels come in there. We’ll keep hoping for continued rain and look forward to seeing how this crop finishes out.
Mark Grundmayer – East Central and Southeast Nebraska
The corn and soybean crops in east central and southeast Nebraska have been on a wild roller-coaster ride of weather conditions. June ended as the third hottest on record and July saw the heat continue. The warm days and nights meant that corn grew at an extremely rapid pace and fast-growing corn is susceptible to wind damage. There were multiple storms (from Platte County to Jefferson County) that brought wind and hail, damage ranged from root lodging to green snap. We saw greensnap in hybrids that we haven’t seen snap before. It was an unfortunate reminder that all hybrids can greensnap in the right growing conditions and weather events.
Rainfall has been adequate for most of the area except for Colfax, Dodge, northern Saunders, Sarpy, Douglas and Washington counties. Crops in those counties are suffering, especially now that we are pollinating and in early grain fill stages. Disease pressure has been light for the most part, although gray leaf spot and southern rust are starting to develop and may need a fungicide application.
Overall crops look good and warm temperature are forecast to continue for the next several weeks. Hopefully Mother Nature cooperates and we can finish the growing season without any more storms.
Jeff Morey – Northwest Iowa
Most of the corn is at or near VT stage and soybeans are at R2-R3 stage. However, much of NW IA is currently under abnormally dry or moderate drought conditions, which we haven’t seen since 2017. The areas of abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions have been increasing in coverage for about a month. Those crops that are on lighter soils have been deteriorating for at least 2 weeks now. On the bright side, we have had very little disease pressure showing up in either corn or soybeans. The northern most counties have caught a few rains and there have been a few diseases starting to appear in some corn fields.
With the lower spring rainfall amounts, it appears that the CRW pressure is back and quite heavy in places. The traited corn is holding up quite well, but we are still finding above treatment level thresholds of CRW beetle populations in some fields. The non-traited corn with only an at-planting insecticide has seen some heavy feeding on roots in those corn on corn situations. Those acres are also seeing above treatment level thresholds of CRW beetle populations. The smaller, damaged root masses will certainly cause some yield loss and possibly reduced standability at harvest.
Soybeans have been moving along steadily in this heat and dry weather. Most of the 30” rows have started to shade the area between the rows. With current conditions, it is probably time to start scouting for spider mites in those dry areas.
Greg Peters – Southwest Iowa and Northwest Missouri
The biggest concern is this area at the moment is the expansion of the drought across western Iowa. We had gotten off to a good start to the growing season, but the lack of rainfall is starting to show up significantly. NW Missouri has been catching a few more storm systems with precipitation, and the crops are advancing fast with the extra heat this year. We are seeing more corn rootworm issues in the typical hotspots, and the pressure is high enough this year that even traited products are struggling to hold the larvae back. Growers seriously need to consider rotating out of corn on these problem fields. Our next concern will be the likely development of high levels of spider mites with the continued heat and dryness. The lack of moisture has held most disease development back, though we are getting reports of Southern Rust to the south and west. That and Gray Leaf Spot may require treatment if we do get some moisture that allows more development.
Soybeans are hanging on despite the weather, and some rain from now through mid-August would make a huge difference in final yield. We are seeing some Japanese beetles but not at threshold levels. We are seeing some Thistle Caterpillars but nowhere near the levels we saw in 2019.
Jed Norman – North Central Iowa
Corn in my area has hit the VT-R1 stage. Fields that had a hard time coming out of the ground this spring are now becoming more noticeable due to the varying flower stages. Disease pressure has been relatively low; however, I expect this to begin to change as a result of the heat and high humidity we have had this past week and the higher temperatures coming next week. Overall, the crop in north-central Iowa is looking good. Corn could use a rain within the next week to help with pollination.
Soybeans have hit the R3 stage (Beginning Pod). Fields in my area look very clean. Mother nature has been friendly and allowed farmers to get their post applications done in a timely manner. I’m starting to see a little Frogeye Leaf Spot, but it has not been anything to be concerned about yet.
Dave Hoy – Northeast Iowa
For the most part, corn looks very good. We had some issues with excessive winds not too long ago in many areas just prior to tassel. Corn that was down is starting to stand back up. Tasseling and silking are currently underway for the majority of corn. There are some current rootworm beetles and Japanese beetle clipping but for the most part growers are adding insecticide to their fungicide application and taking care of that problem. Overall, moisture is adequate to above adequate especially as you move north closer to the Minnesota line where we have ample water. There are very few instances of northern corn leaf blight and gray leaf spot are showing up. I have not seen any tar spot or rust.
Soybeans are generally at R2 and many soybeans are closing in the row. I’ve seen some dicamba damage but for the most part it hasn’t been as bad in Northeast Iowa as in the past. Soybeans look to have a good color and internodes seem to be at a very nice length for stretching out and getting as many of those pods on the nodes as we can get. We’ve had some very hot days lately, but I have not seen the corn roll yet or the soybeans start to gray off. It looks as though our crops are handling the excessive heat very well.
Bryant Luers – Southeast Iowa
As the summer has progressed here in SE Iowa, I find that the corn in almost all of Team 19 looks very good! We are at or past tassel on pretty much everything at this point and there has been little to no disease pressure. I have found some Grey Leaf Spot and some Common Rust, but as of right now nothing that looks close to concerning. Pollination is happening in a lot of corn fields and we have seen some cooler nights to aid in that so I anticipate some very good pollination this year. The moral of the story in SE Iowa is we are set up for a pretty good corn crop to this point. We will see how grain fill progresses the rest of the way, but I am looking forward to some big yields this fall!
Soybeans have been about the same story so far. Not a lot to look at for disease and pretty much all of them look good right now. The biggest thing on soybeans this summer has been weed control. The control of waterhemp has been good, but I have been on a lot of calls over the past few weeks looking at herbicide drift and seeing some cupping on the leaves in a lot of instances. In most cases I don’t think it will cause any yield damage, but it has been the talk of the town again this summer. As the next week or two progress here, we will see a lot of soybeans hit the R3 window and sprayers will be rolling all over the countryside putting fungicide on. With soybean stands and weed control looking pretty good this year I look for some good bean yields come fall as well!