Some may feel the 2016 crop is off and running at a slower than desirable pace with just 66% of the state's corn crop planted. When compared to recent history, we are well beyond the five year average of 38%. This would mimic what I have been hearing across our sales territories from our Seed Specialists. The recent rains and cool weather have slowed recent progress on those numbers but we are in very good shape nonetheless. Our current GDU accumulation is running a little behind schedule, with 440 GDU's accumulated (Normal, IL.). Based on an April 1 start date, we historically would have accumulated 465-475 GDU's. As a reference point, we were running close to 560 during the same time period in 2015.
Corn: Soil conditions have been very favorable. As a result, 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. Recent cooler than normal temps have caused some minor yellowing in specific hybrids. These will quickly fade back to a robust green as temperatures return back to normal.
Special note- If you happen to have some of the remaining 34% of the corn acres to plant, don't fret, stay the course. While traditional thinking would force you to consider switching crops think about this; in 2009 and 2013, very few acres of corn were planted by the end of April. 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 overrule 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 loss in yield by waiting an additional day.
Soybeans: I have received reports that 10-80% 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 last week. Also received a note that the slow to develop seedlings were being stressed by slowed PPO herbicide metabolism in 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. 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, if warranted, on wheat fields this week as they enter the reproductive stage of development. 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.
That's all for now, have a safe and productive week.