The 2015 crop is off and running at what some may feel is at a snail’s pace, but when compared to recent history we are ahead of last year and far beyond the five year history. In the May 10th USDA report Illinois reported corn planting at 88% completed and soybeans at 33%, which are both 10% higher than 2014 and over 20% higher than the average since 2010. This would mimic what I have been hearing across our sales territories from our Seed Specialists. The recent rains and cool weather has slowed recent progress on those numbers but we are in very good shape none the less. Our current GDU accumulation is ahead of normal as well. Based on an April 1 start date we historically would have accumulated 400-410 GDU’s. Currently we are 65-70 GDU’s ahead, running between 470-480 depending on where you run your calculations. The forecast is for an additional 250 GDU’s to be added by the end of the month so with adequate soil moisture crops will continue to develop at a rapid pace.
Speaking of crops here are some observations made over the past week and some thought s about the weeks ahead.
Corn: With majority of acres planted, stands and stand uniformity looks really good. While walking fields and doing population counts it would appear that we avoided any serious issues with emergence or stand establishment. I will note that within certain geographies there will be limited replant due to heavy rainfall and ponding, but these will be very small percentages of acres. Last week’s cooler than normal temps did cause some minor yellowing in specific hybrids, but as temperatures return back to normal this will quickly fade back to a robust green. There have been reports of heavy Black cutworm moth captures through north central counties (between I-74 and I-88), if you chose to plant a hybrid without Bt protection against this early season pest you will need to scout your fields, as the 1-4 leaf stage in corn is the timeframe for most damage. Projected time frame for feeding will begin later this week into the end of the month for northern counties. There are several good insecticides that can be used if adequate feeding is discovered while the larvae are still young. Special note- If you happen to have some of the remaining 12% of the corn acres to plant don’t fret and if at all possible stay the course. While traditional thinking would force you to consider switching crop think about this. In 2009 and 2013 very few acres of corn were planted by the end of April, and in both those years the final state yield averages were 10+ bushel over trend line yields. Just remember that the need to plant those acres can’t over rule planting when conditions are correct. The rush to plant and creating a poor environment for seed establishment could be twice as costly as any possible lost in yield by waiting an additional day.
Soybeans: I have received reports that 10-60% of soybeans are planted across our sales territories, which again falls in line with reported state averages. Those planted fields have been slow to get rolling but seem to be progressing. There have been observations of “purpling” mesocotyls in emerging fields. This would be due to the cold, wet weather we enjoyed early last week. Also received a note that the slow to develop seedlings were being stressed by slowed PPO herbicide metabolism is some fields. While undesirable, this is a side effect of our need to maintain good cultural practices and use multiple modes of prevention to control small seeded broadleaves and grass in our fields. Under warmer conditions we normally don’t notice this issue since the plant is developing so rapidly it metabolizes the active ingredient more easily than it is this year. Food for thought- Soybean planting depth. 1.75-2” is considered the ideal planting depth for corn and most growers strive for that planting depth. But what about your soybeans? Many growers I have worked with over the years tend to shallow the planting depth up to 1” +/- depending on planting date and tillage practice. In a multi-year study conducted over various seeding depths and populations researchers found that the greatest yields were achieved at the 1.75” seeding depth no matter what tillage system was used. The finding also concluded that yields drastically declined when planting depth was shallower than 1.25”. So just like in corn, make sure you are maintaining the same ideal planting depth to achieve top yields.
Wheat: Good progress is being made on wheat development. Growers should be scouting for foliar diseases and ready to make fungicide applications on wheat fields this week as they enter the reproductive stage of development if warranted. Stripe rust and Fusarium head blight (Scab) has been observed across the state. The cool wet conditions have been ideal for rust to flourish. If you have fields just beginning to flower a treatment of Prosaro or Caramba should be considered for control of Scab and Stripe rust. Contact your local retailer about use of these products.
Forage and Hay: I have received reports of some wet baling of 1st cut hay and rye grass this past week. With all the moisture we have received over the last couple weeks expectations are for a rather sizable first cutting of hay.
That’s all for now, have a safe and productive week.
Sean D. Jordal,