KEEP AN EYE ON THOSE STALKS
Thought you were done scouting fields? Generally, as your corn reaches black layer the risks from pests and diseases diminishes dramatically, but not when it comes to stalk rots. I’m sure some of you have noticed fields that have prematurely died. Those are the fields you should take a walk in.
Harvest losses can be avoided by early harvest if stalk rot is detected at a 15-20% level. Fields should be scouted every 7-10 days until harvest or a 20% stalk rot level is observed. Harvest these fields with weakened stalks as soon as it is practical. Yes, it is a difficult decision to harvest wet corn, but the alternative is more costly.
Anthracnose is the common culprit this year. The plants have fought it well most of the season but as grain-filling came to an end, sugars moved out of the stalk faster than photosynthesis replenished them, and stalks weakened rapidly.
Most of you have experienced harvesting down corn, so you know that risk versus harvesting corn with a higher moisture. Typically down corn will not dry down at the same rate as standing corn. Harvest losses will incur plus the time and energy consumed by spending more time in the field.
So take that walk through your fields and push on stalks to see if they break easily. Harvest those fields with weakened stalks as soon as it is practical.
John Woener, Consulting Agronomist