Matching Soils to Ear Type when Selecting Hybrids

As seen in January 14th Agrinews


Apart from having productivity goals that extend beyond a single season, 365-day yield strategies to increase APH are also characterized by multiple, sometimes subtle, decisions that, collectively, expand yield potential.

As growers refine their hybrid packages for 2016, one of the understated factors worth considering involves the process of selecting ear type and leaf orientation based on soil characteristics. 


Low-Productivity Acres = Flex Ear + Open-Architecture Leaf

Ground historically known for lower productivity, due to the likes of drought stress or poor organic matter, are often best served with a flex-ear hybrid that also produces an open-architecture or pendulum leaf structure.

While poised to be longer and skinnier with fewer kernel rows, flex ears have the ability to add kernel rows, girth and length, depending on the growing environment. That’s why an open-architecture leaf can provide a valuable early-season advantage, particularly in drier soils, because the open, almost flat orientation captures more sunlight and provides the shade to retain as much soil moisture as possible.

This is especially key when recommended plant populations for these types of hybrids are usually 3,000 to 5,000 off the Corn Belt’s 33,000- to 34,000-ppa average.


Variable-Soil Acres = Semi-Flex + Semi-Upright Leaf

Marrying a semi-flex ear with a semi-upright leaf orientation allows for more crowding of plants to achieve a higher population, planted in 30-inch rows or narrower, effectively creating that canopy to limit sunlight breaking through to the soil.

Hybrids with these characteristics have the ability to go across a wide variety of soil types and are ideal candidates for variable-rate seeding, because they do have that ability to flex the ear in good productivity conditions. Yet, they won’t take a yield hit when under stress or at a lower population where they can retain some of that ear size.


High-Fertility Acres = Determinant Ear + Upright Leaf

To optimize soils with a higher level of organic matter and a higher CEC content that makes more nutrients available, the obvious approach is to get as many ears on that ground as possible and support them with a more aggressive nitrogen plan.

That being the case, hybrid selection ought to lean toward a determinant ear with an upright leaf orientation conducive to populations approaching 38,000 ppa. The dense planting alleviates the need for an open, leafy canopy and the fixed ear sizing preserves valuable stock integrity and late-season intactness that can otherwise be sabotaged when a hybrid puts on more ear than it can handle under good conditions, a full growing season gets dry or the plant’s nutrient supply runs low.


Variable-Rate Planters 

Leveraging this hybrid-selection knowledge with variable-rate planting equipment—especially the latest in multi-hybrid planters—takes yield potential to an even higher level. Growers can plant, say, a flex-eared hybrid on a clay knob, lower the population and use an open-architecture leaf to harvest sunshine and minimize soil drying. Then, proceeding across the terrain, a low lying area can call for an upright-oriented hybrid that pushes populations in a semi-determinant or determinant-style ear to maximize yield.


ProHarvest President, Randy Wilken, addresses members at the 27th annual Independent Professional Seed

Association (IPSA) conference in St. Louis, Missouri. After serving as the Association’s first Vice President in

2015, Randy is stepping into the role of IPSA President for 2016.

The opportunities before independent seed companies in today’s market are tremendous. Since its formation in 1989, the Independent Professional SeedAssociation (IPSA) has served as an advocate for growers and customers, now representing nearly 100 seed companies in 25 states, as well as Canada and Mexico. Currently, the IPSA is hosting its 27th annual conference in St. Louis, Missouri. Many say the annual conference is one of the most highly anticipated in the industry, and we at ProHarvest agree. Our team is excited to continue learning of new advancements in seed and, through this conference, we will become better equipped to take our ProHarvest growers to the next level in production agriculture. 

Topics Covered:

- Long term research on cover crops- Illinois State University
- Cover crop establishment and spring management considerations
- Managing Herbicides for a cover crop program
- New Products for 2016

February 3rd, 2016
Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites, Bloomington Airport
3202 East Empire Street, Bloomington, IL 61704
9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Lunch provided.  Open to everyone, free of charge.  Please RSVP by January 25, 2016 to the Ashkum office at 866.807.7015.

Check out our News and Events to find an event near you.  We will be updating this daily with field days and educational events.

Also on our website, check out the links page for research data, product information, and university blogs.

We hope to see you there,

The ProHarvest Team

Randy Wilken                            Keith Knapp

Doug Hanson                            Jay Whalen

Lynn McKibben                          Sean Jordal

Alex Benoit                               John Williams


Topics covered include:

- Improvements for soil health

- Cover Crops that work

- Informational networking with exhibitors & speakers

Times: 8 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Dates and Locations of the seminars:

January 26th, 2016 
The I Hotel and Conference Center
1900 South First Street, Champaign, IL 

January 27th, 2016
Lewis and Clark Community College
5800 Godfrey Road, Godfrey, IL 

January 28th, 2016
The Camden Centre
2701 First Street East, Milan, IL 

Register online here or contact the Ashkum office (866.807.7015) for a registration form.  $20 registration fee required, lunch included.  CCA - 5.0 SWM CEUs available for attending.

We hope to see you there,

The ProHarvest Team

Randy Wilken                           Keith Knapp

Doug Hanson                            Jay Whalen

Lynn McKibben                          Sean Jordal

Alex Benoit                               John Williams

As seen in Illinois AgriNews on October 23th 2015

With all the work that growers have to tackle this time of year, it may seem premature to think about 2016 spring planting. Yet, shifting from a linear, “one season at a time” approach to a more 365-day yield strategy can pay measurable dividends—especially in increasing actual production-harvest numbers. 

The fact of the matter is growers can proactively affect 2016-yield potential right now by making a few postharvest decisions to promote an ideal seedbed for next season.

Optimize Fall Tillage Opportunities

Fall tillage typically provides a more ideal environment for establishing a nutrient-rich bed where seed can thrive. Soil temperatures are generally more suitable in the fall. Plus, soil moisture during this time of year is normally below field capacity, which minimizes compaction. With that in mind, growers have some seedbed tactics to consider depending on their preferred tillage methods.

Conventional tillage calls for verifying that the equipment is set to the ideal depth, creating a uniform seedbed that has a good mix of residues. Strip tillage, on the other hand, demands a focus on accurate nutrient placement to successfully create a high-fertility zone.

Meanwhile, in no-till situations, where residues are managed through the combine, growers should watch the chaff and debris coming out of the combine and ensure it’s spreading uniformly across the field. This will protect the soil from raindrop impact, high temperatures and weeds, while also conserving moisture and providing food for soil microbes. 

Consider Fall Fertility Management

A crop’s ability to optimize investments in fertility inputs can be directly tied to soil pH with an ideal range that is slightly on the acidic side of 6.0 to 6.8. Therefore, before buying fertility inputs, growers should gather as much soil data as possible through uniform soil testing.

While soil testing in the spring has its advantages—one of which is a wider window to evaluate soil test results and develop a management plan—soil and weather conditions are often better suited for sampling in the fall. Either way, it comes down to acquiring the information growers need to move that pH range, if necessary. Once you have established a timeframe for soil sampling, stick with it. Different seasons will result in differing test results, especially phosphorus.

Meanwhile, when it comes to nitrogen application, the specific form and given weather conditions are always factors for consideration, but timing is as well. Apart from the fact that a fall application has a much lower soil-compaction effect compared to the spring, it also optimizes nutrient uptake for the following season.

Research shows, whether using AMS to stimulate soil microbes that, in turn, promote mineralization of this year’s crop residue, or anhydrous ammonia to establish a foundation for additional N applications throughout the growing season, growers are well served when applying between 60 to 70 percent of nitrogen prior to crop emergence. Obviously, a fall application allows a great head start to achieve that goal.

As seen in Illinois AgriNews on September 18th 2015

The dry, warm weather in August has quickly matured crops, and it won’t be long before combines start rolling. For optimum yield potential and labor efficiency, growers can use five factors to evaluate their fields and establish a smart harvest-sequence schedule.

  1. Overall plant health

Developing a harvest strategy starts with looking broadly at each field’s overall plant health. Some trouble-free fields can withstand a little drydown, depending on prior nitrogen management and drainage. More likely, however, given the wet spring and summer, many growers will face highly stressed plants and will need to assess nutrient availability. Performing a “lean test,” to see if the stalks will bend or buckle, and cutting a stalk open, to identify the level of viable inner pith, are two nutrient-assessment options. To maximize yield, fields with weak stalks and ear shanks need to be moved to the top of the harvest schedule.

  1. Relative maturities

With a handle on plant health, growers can evaluate each field based on the hybrid’s maturity level. Fields with early-maturing hybrids that have flex or semiflex ears tend to lose dry matter the longer they stay in the field. Growers can capture more yield by harvesting those hybrids earlier at a higher moisture content and managing them when they’re in the bin.

  1. Disease pressure

A field’s disease tolerance also influences its priority in the harvest sequence. Growers may have implemented planned treatment programs throughout the season or found themselves in a rescue-treatment situation, trying to stop a disease’s progress. Regardless, growers can identify the fields that are still under intense disease pressure and move them up in the sequence. 

  1. Crop rotation

Growers with fields in a first or second year of corn-on-corn rotation should likely move those fields up in their harvest schedule as well. Crops in the second year are more susceptible to disease and lower stalk integrity. So, taking them off sooner will increase yield. 

At the same time, fields in the first year of a continuous-corn plan should also be a harvest priority, as part of a good yield strategy for 2016. In this scenario, harvesting while the weather is still relatively warm—above 50°F—gives soil microbes more time to break down and mineralize the crop residue for nutrient uptake next year. Applying a postharvest ammonium sulfate prior to tillage can also add a nitrogen boost. All of this is especially critical for corn plants following corn.

  1. Cover-crop potential

Using cover crops through the fall and winter can also affect a grower’s harvest-scheduling decisions. They need to consider which fields will have cover crops, how they intend to plant them (flying vs. an on-ground rig), and their tillage strategy. Typically, growers will have a higher level of success the earlier they harvest fields intended for cover crops.

In the end, growers who apply all five of these factors to their harvest-sequence planning are better prepared to maximize yields this growing season, and are in a better position to execute a smart yield strategy for 2016.

Join us for a great meal
 and new product information.

Tuesday, August 18

4:00-8:00 p.m.

Plot tours throughout the evening for corn, soybeans, and cover crops.


Drone demonstration over fields. See how this innovative technology can benefit your business.

Yield 365 Strategy: What Growers Can Expect This Fall? -presented by Sean Jordal, Agronomist.

How To Produce High-Yielding Soybeans? -presented

by Doug Goodman, Peterson Genetics.

Join Us!



As we wind ourselves through the dog days of summer, I thought a summary of agronomic opportunities in corn would be good to review.

1.) Pollination:  The most critical 5 - 8 days of your corn plants life.  At this point the corn plant stops developing more leaves and root mass has primarily established.  Stresses endured during this time period and beyond directly impact final yield.

a.) Most corn pollination takes place mid-morning to early afternoon, when conditions are dry and before the hottest portion of the day.

b.) An average ear has between 750-1000 silks.  Each tassel can produce between 3-5 million pollen grains- more than enough to limit pollination issues under normal growing conditions.

c.) Within 2-3 days of when fertilization, the silk will detach itself from the newly formed kernel.  

d.) If you wish to check on pollination, gently remove an ear from the plant and carefully remove the husk.  Try not to remove silks at this time.  Once husks are removed, gently shake the ear and let silks fall away.  All pollinated kernels will lose the silks any unfertilized kernels will keep silks attached.

2. Ear Rots:  Hot-wet conditions at silking and up to 3 weeks following pollination are ideal for developing ear molds such as:

a.) Gibberella ear rot - Typically is diagnosed when pink to red mold is found at the tip of the ear and works its way to the base.

b.) Diplodia ear rot - Is identifiable by a white to gray mold that covers the ear.  Resulting in light weight ears.

c.) Fusarium ear rot - Is recognized by clusters of white to gray kernels or individual kernels and by a starburst or fine red lines radiating from the point of silk attachment.

3.) Stalk Rots: Generally start to appear from mid-August through harvest.  Identification of fields with stalk rot issues will be necessary to figure out a sound harvest strategy.  Here are some common stalk rots and how to determine which is which.

a.) Gibberella stalk rot - Infection occurs after pollination.  Favored by warm/wet weather.  Vascular bundles appear reddish in color. 

b.) Anthracnose stalk rot - Symptoms usually apparent just prior to physiological maturity or "Black layer" corn.  Shiny black blotches appear on outer stalk.  Inner stalk pith can also become infected and turn black.  Generally results in plant dying near the ear and lodging.

 c.) Diplodia stalk rot - Very similar to Gibberella, but without the reddish color.  Infection site is lower portion of stalk near root crown.  Tiny black specks embedded in rind of stalk are visual identification tools.  Tends to be more predominant in continuous corn fields, as pathogen overwinters in residue.

4.) Fungal Diseases:  We have reviewed these in previous scouting updates.  The big three I would continue to keep a vigilant eye out for are:

 a.) Gray Leaf Spot (GLS)- Rectangular shaped lesions that have gray/necrotic appearance.  Early identification is crucial for maximum effectiveness of fungicide.  Disease can infect from silking through maturity.  Extended periods of high humidity or wet weather encourage disease development. 

b.) Northern Corn Leaf Blight (NCLB)- Large cigar shaped lesions are gray to green in color.  Size of lesions is determined by different resistance genes in corn plant.  Usual infection occurs at or shortly after silking.  Long periods of leaf surface moisture favor development.  This disease has become more predominant over the past several years.

c.) Southern Rust - Overwinters in Southern US, but spreads into Midwest though weather patterns.  Cinnamon brown pustules are scattered on upper leaf surfaces.  Need a systemic fungicide to treat.

 As fields continue to dry out and roots regain their ability to absorb needed nutrients, I have seen a gradual improvement across the sales territories.  I'm not predicting biblical style recoveries by any means, but in general corn fields have started to develop a more desirable color and uniformity.  Applying late season nitrogen doesn't always correlate to improved yields.  Primary yield factors were determined at V6-8 (ear girth) and V12-15 (ear length) depending on hybrid.  

Make sure that you continue to walk your fields over the next several weeks as pollination wraps up to get a better idea of what this fall might hold in store.


Until next time,

Sean D. Jordal


ProHarvest Seeds

The delays this spring and early summer attributable to heavy rainfall, many of the corn and especially soybean fields that didn't get a foundation herbicide are starting to get a little, well for lack of a better term, UGLY.  With this in mind I thought a quick reminder of usage rates and tank-mix partners might be helpful this week.  I just hope we get a chance to use them.

Glyphosate can be applied over the top of Roundup Ready soybeans up to 1.5 lb ae/acre.  This is equivalent to 44 fl oz of Roundup PowerMax/WeatherMax, 48 fl oz of Touchdown Total or Durango DMA/Duramax, or 64 fl oz of most generic types of glyphosate.  You can use up to 66 fl oz of Powermax equivalent in your soybean crop (44 fl oz for corn).  Use the higher rates for perennials and large or hard to control annuals.

Glyphosate can be applied to RR soybeans from emergence through flowering (R2 stage - ends when a pod is 5 mm or 3/16 inch long at one of the four uppermost nodes on the main stem).  Include an appropriate surfactant if the product is not fully loaded and AMS for hard water or when tank mixing.  You can tank mix a number of products with glyphosate to broaden the spectrum.  Here are some suggestions:

  • For volunteer corn, common mixtures would include: Assure II, Targa, Fusilade, Fusion, Select, and others.  Rates will vary by products.
  • For increased broadleaf activity and/or for residual control, Classic, Harmony, FirstRate, Pursuit (or Extreme), Raptor, Scepter, Zidua, and Synchrony can be added.  Classic, Synchony, and FirstRate will help control glyphosate resistant marestail.  Classic and Synchrony added to glyphosate will help provide residual control of burcucumber.  Again, rates will vary by product.
  • Contact type herbicides such as Aim, Cadet, Reflex (or Flexstar GT), and others have been promoted in tank-mixture for improved control of certain glyphosate tolerant or resistant weeds (morning glory, nightshade, pigweeds, ragweeds, etc.).  Be aware that these herbicides can cause some leaf burn and also antagonize glyphosate performance on normally susceptible weed species.
  • Increased rates of glyphosate can help improve perennial weed control.  For weeds like pokeweed, be sure the spray boom is above the weeds and use spray tips that maximize coverage.
  • Finally, several residual grass herbicides can be tank mixed with glyphosate products.  Warrant is one of the newer products containing encapsulated acetochlor.  Both Dual and Outlook can be applied post, but only up to the third-trifoliate leaf stage.

With the continuing weather patterns, the potential for White Mold in our soybean fields is high.  Here is some information from Iowa State University reviewing management tips.

Managing White Mold in Soybeans

By Daren Mueller, Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology

Farmers in the Midwest may be concerned about white mold (also called Sclerotinia stem rot) in soybeans this year.  The disease, caused by the fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, is not common every year, but farmers who have battled the disease in the past will want to assess the risk of white mold development as soybeans approach flowering (growth stage R1 - plants have at least one open flower at any node).

White mold development is favored by cool, cloudy, wet, humid weather at flowering. The disease is more problematic in soybeans in high-yield environments where high plant populations, narrow row spacing, and an early-closing canopy are commonly used. No single management strategy is 100 percent effective at eliminating white mold, and in-season options for at-risk fields are limited.   

There are fungicides available for in-season management of white mold however, not all commonly used fungicides are labeled for use against white mold in soybeans.  The NCERA-137 national soybean disease committee developed a table listing which fungicides are labeled for white mold and their efficacy ratings.  These ratings are based on replicated research data collected from University trials.


Several products have been rated as 'good' for white mold management, including Aproach, Endura, and Proline.  If using fungicides for white mold management, keep in mind that efficacy may be based on the ability of the fungicide to penetrate into the canopy, and the timing of the fungicide application. Fungicides will be most effective at reducing the impact of white mold when applied at or close to growth stage R1. 

However, Wisconsin research data indicates that fungicides applied up to growth stage R3 (early pod - pods are 3/16-inch long at one of the four uppermost nodes) may have some effect on white mold severity, but later applications will likely not be as effective at reducing disease. Once symptoms of white mold are evident, fungicides will have no effect on reducing the disease.  Fungicide applications for white mold management may be most useful on fields where varieties rated as susceptible to white mold are planted in a field with a history of the disease.

If a soybean field is diagnosed with high levels of white mold, this field should be harvested last.  This will help reduce the movement of the survival structures of the white mold fungus by harvesting equipment, to fields that are not infested.  Also, be sure to clean all harvesting equipment thoroughly at the end of the season to avoid inadvertent infestation of fields.  Rotations of 2-3 years between soybean crops can help reduce the level of the fungus causing white mold in fields. 

Until Next Time,


Sean D. Jordal


ProHarvest Seeds

In an effort to avoid sounding like a broken record, I am going to avoid dwelling on the abundant blessings we have received over the past several weeks in the form of liquid sunshine.

This past week Emerson Nafziger put out a nice article focused on Nitrogen availability and the current rainfall totals we have accumulated.  Please take a minute to read through his article.  Here is the link, click here.


Some other issues that are starting to pop up across the corn fields would be the potential for Gray Leaf Spot (GLS).  With all the surface moisture on the corn leaves early in the day, conditions will be right as we close in on tasseling in early planted fields.  Be sure to scout corn-on-corn fields and fields with history of GLS first.  Purdue extension is a very helpful website, click here for the link.





European corn borer and corn rootworm beetles should also be on your watch list while scouting fields.  It has been several years since I have seen moth flights as heavy as I have noticed recently.  For any growers that chose to plant a non-Bt hybrid, now is the time to check for egg masses.  Insecticide applications will need to be scheduled prior to hatch and larvae boring into plants.  As corn starts to convert from vegetative to reproductive growth stages, silks will start to develop making a nice buffet for emerging adult rootworm beetles.  Monitor for silk clipping to reduce any chance for pollination issues.






Soybeans have started to set flowers.  Response is crucial to disease and insect pressure as we enter the reproductive stage and try to maximize pod set.  White Mold and Septoria Brown Spot can really get going with our current environmental conditions.  With either, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Be vigilant in scouting and talk to you crop protection supplier about a strategy to combat if necessary.


See I barely talked about that four letter word.

Until next time,

Sean D. Jordal


ProHarvest Seeds

If rain makes grain then there sure should be lots of yield, or so you would think.  The challenge is too much of any weather pattern can turn out to be counterproductive.  With all of the moisture, we also need clear skies and direct sunshine so photosynthesis can convert the available water into energy for the plant.

Plants are only able to utilize a portion of the solar radiation spectrum.  This portion is known as "Photosynthetically Active Radiation" or PAR which is estimated to be only 40-50% of the total radiation available from the sun.  PAR is generally reduced by 25-50% on cloudy days and by as much as 60% on rainy days.  This past week, much of the corn crop is around the V5-V6 growth stage.  Presently, ear girth is being developed.  The moisture may limit the number of kernel rows around.  Ear length and test weight will still impact yield, so all is not lost.

Here are recent comments from our Seed Specialists with observations of field conditions across their sales territories.

Ashkum: Areas around Ashkum have received 1.6 to 3+ inches of rainfall for the week.  Some ponds did form but, for the most part, evaporated on Wednesday-Thursday.  A few isolated areas still have some water standing.  

Corn is average to good.  The well-drained, early planted fields definitely stand out.  On Tuesday, I observed some hail damage in an isolated area around Chenoa.  One grower mentioned the area affected covered about 8 miles east to west and approximately 1.5 miles north to south.  I did see a few soybean fields in the Fairbury-Forest area showing symptoms of either septoria brown spot or rust.  There was not much hay cut.  On a positive note, all this moisture will definitely help pastures and the hay that was harvested early.  

Streator: The following rainfalls were recorded:  We had 2 to 2.6 inches on the 7th, a tenth on the 8th, 4 tenths on the 10th, and another half inch on the 12th.  On Wednesday, we were fortunate to miss the golf ball sized hail and 4 inches of rain that hit Marshall/Putnam and Woodford counties.  Luckily the storm did not cross route 39.  In areas that received 2 inches of rain, there was no ponding or water setting.  Both corn and beans are looking great.  Corn that was buggy whipped has come out of it very well.  It looks unusual with a lot of white leaves across fields.  Conditions may dry off just in time to start spraying again.  However, that window has been very small.  Some hay in the area has been rained on 5 or 6 times so, it is not looking good.

I am sending  2 pictures taken this morning from two of my bean fields that are right across the road from each other.  The top picture was chisel plowed and cultivated, the bottom was cereal rye and vertical tilled last fall.  I am very happy with the results.  Water infiltration was improved with a cover crop. 

Pekin: There have been heavy rains this week in central Illinois.  Many fields in the Lincoln area have ponds.  Also some fields have hail and wind damage.  Some growers will be replanting soybeans.  The corn that was laid over earlier in the week is starting to look more upright.  The corn and soybean crop does look extremely well considering the weather conditions that we have had to deal with.

Atlanta: The area has had very heavy rain this week as several storms went through. We have had about 5 inches.  Corn and beans look good. Hay production has been quite difficult when rains come every 12 hours.  Crops look pretty good for what they have been through. 

Hoopeston: I had the opportunity to do some root digs in corn-on-corn fields which are showing signs of stunting.  This picture is 8110 StaxRIB, planted 7 weeks ago in an area which has had 15" of rain since it was planted.  On a positive note, the second set of nodal roots are starting to emerge and I believe this corn, with some dry conditions, will start to improve quickly.  The roots just look like plants that are 3 weeks old, not 7 weeks.  It is strongly recommended that the grower do a nitrate test for nitrogen availability.  Like I have always said, "NEVER GIVE UP ON A CROP".  If you give up, you know the results.  

Corn following soybean fields are greatly improving, and growers are starting to talk about fungicide with all the moisture.  We need to keep an eye out for foliardiseases. I saw something that I have never seen in my career.  A farmer south of Potomac, IL went into his poor stand of corn and replanted the field with soybeans without working the ground.  I assume he is planning on spraying his corn with a grass herbicide.  It looked odd to see a full stand of corn and soybeans in the same field.  It appeared the corn stand was roughly 80%.  

Our soybeans are really struggling with all the wet weather.  There are a lot of ponds to replant and post-spraying to do.  It appears that the wet weather has made pigweed very difficult to kill with Round-Up.  We encourage growers to check for weed pressure.  Do not assume that Round-Up is working.   

Until next time,

Sean D. Jordal


ProHarvest Seeds 

Performance, ROI Come Down to Timing, Testing

As seen in Illinois Agrinews on June 12th, 2015

ASHKUM, Ill.—As crops are emerging across the Midwest, growers who hold different nitrogen-management views and techniques all generally share the same question: “Do I have enough nitrogen to maximize my yield?”

The good news is, even after emergence and faced with the typical unknowns about the weather ahead, growers still have options.

Application Rates and Methodology

Multiple studies and on-farm reports point to a sound rule that says for every bushel of yield, a corn plant demands approximately 1.3 to 1.5 pounds of actual nitrogen. In Illinois, where 200-bushel fields are rather mainstream, this 1.5 conversion rate translates to somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 pounds of actual N necessary to achieve a full-season effect.

Whether relying on a commercial fertilizer or an organic source, growers are generally better served with a management program that calls for applying about 60–70 percent of nitrogen at the pre-plant stage or, at least, early in the growing season, before seeding starts. Then, the remaining 30–40 percent ought to come in behind that prior to the V8 developmental stage or 30-inch tall corn.

The product options at this point, depending on the grower’s preference, run fairly wide—whether a UAN solution, ammonium nitrate, urea or anhydrous—but the corn’s growth stage has some influence here (see illustration) and the goal is simple.

To maximize that nitrogen dollar, growers should time the supply as close to tasseling as possible, when corn is processing its largest amount of nitrogen uptake.Source:, type and timing for sidedress, May 11, 2015

The Most Underestimated Program Component

As with reaching any goal, however, the key is knowing what the starting point is—in other words, getting a clear idea of a field’s current nitrogen profile before making any application decisions.

Using a popular technique known as a pre-sidedress nitrate test (PSNT), growers should pull 15 to 20 core samples at a minimum 12" depth—24" is ideal—avoiding areas where starter fertilizer or nitrate banding has already been applied. Mix the soil together and take the sample to a reliable lab for a nitrate test.

 If the results register greater than 25 parts per million (ppm), the field should have enough nitrogen to finish out that crop and achieve top yield potential. If results register 24 ppm or less, growers can make an educated sidedress application based on growing conditions, planting date and the field’s historical yield potential (see the chart).


Source: Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, Agronomy Guide, AY-314-W, April 2003]

Jordal, Sean. "Full-Season Nitrogen Effect". Illinois Agrinews. June 2015. B5. Print. 

Well, another week has come and gone.  Not a bad week overall.  Planting percentages have added a couple more points in both corn and soybeans and, grain markets have improved.  It appears that most of the corn is planted.  There are scattered fields of soybeans to get in yet.  Fields need to dry following a rainy weekend.  Area growers reported rainfall totals ranging from .5 to nearly 4 inches.  There were some reports of minimal hail damage.  Nitrogen applications and post herbicide treatments have been made where soils are dry enough for equipment travel.


Corn: We are making progress.  I made several field visits to diagnose "buggy whipping".  However, what actually was taking place is Rapid Growth Syndrome (RGS).  While this phenomenon has shown limited impact on final yields, it does grad your attention when walking fields.  This crop response is caused by quickly warming temperatures as corn starts to take in nutrients through its developing nodal root system.  The plant is rapidly growing taller and the emerging leaves are unable to unroll at the same pace.  This causes plants to roll up tightly and, in some cases, lay over in the field.  These plants will loosen and start to stand upright after a couple days.  I traveled through northern Illinois last week, overall rotated acres look good to very good while corn-on-corn fields (especially those in high residue) continue to struggle.  Warmer temperatures are needed to aid the mineralization process and release nutrition back to the developing crop.

Soybeans: Still a work in progress.  The above picture illustrates water damage and soil crusting due to excess rainfall prior to this weekend. Some growers are planting and, in some areas, replanting.  I have been in fields with growth stages ranging from emergence to V4 and have seen no new issues.  Herbicide applications will need to begin on the more developed fields as soon as field conditions permit.  Grass and broadleaf pressure is keeping pace with soybean development.  The ponding from this weekend's rainfall will likely create more replant needs.b2ap3_thumbnail_Crops-2.png
Hay and Forage: Haying continues to be a challenge with the re-occuring weather pattern.  A good portion of the state has managed to get their first cutting completed last week.  The next 5 to 7 days does not look promising for good drying conditions to justify cutting.  Most of the first cutting will be very mature be the time it gets harvested.  Depending on the variety, alfalfa looks to be in +50% bloom at this time.
Cover Crops:  It's not too early to start putting together a strategy for what products will be the most beneficial for your 2016 crop.  The ProHarvest Seeds Specialists and Dealers are your most experienced resources.  Have them help you put together a plan for a successful cover crop program.
Until next time, 
Sean D. Jordal
ProHarvest Seeds

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.

b2ap3_thumbnail_849b8610-f680-4d3e-8cab-342effc22dd4.jpgCorn:  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.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Wheat.jpgWheat:  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,

ProHarvest Seeds





A review of Corn+Soybean Digest’s “9 Basics for Top Soybean Yields” article published on December 8, 2014. In the article, Susan Winsor of the Digest talks with three rising stars in soybean production—graduate students Adam Gaspar, Ethan Smidt and David Marburger, who collectively make up the Bean Team at the University of Wisconsin. Their super mission was topping 87 bushels per acre by using nine basic agriculture techniques. In this article, we’ll explore my take on the accomplishment of these young men.

One of my first observations is that the young farmers focus on costs, but not just the price—the price compared to the results. That focus sets them apart because many growers think they can buy their way to high-end soybean yields by using special fungicides, insecticides or fuller feeding products. After using those products on their soybeans, they are often frustrated with the lack of return on investment (ROI). What these graduate students achieved shows us how important the basics of farming are. Eighty-seven bushels per acre do not lie. 

Narrow Rows—Higher Yields

One of the key factors for their success comes from a practice we teach in our Yield 365 class—knowing how to use the right genetics on the right acreage. You cannot treat every plot of land the same. What works in one area may or may not work in another. These guys examine the land and try to understand it. They made the educated choice to plant narrower rows based on north or south latitudes. They found that by planting early and using narrow rows, the yield increased because these factors took advantage of available sunlight. That plan was found to work better with 15-inch rows and normal inputs than with 30-inch rows and all the inputs. Not only did this work to increase yield, but it also cost less than using 30-inch rows and paying for all those inputs. Even if you split the difference, you find that split-row planters, 20-inch rows become tools to help maximize the uniformity of stand and allow ground coverage to eliminate weed competition.

Understanding Crop Needs and Soil Health

The Bean Team began with soil fertility as an issue—soybeans are high potassium and high nitrate and nitrogen consumers. So, making sure growers are feeding that crop the proper amount of potassium going into the growing season is key. The practice of crop rotation plays an important role in the success of this project too. Monitoring K and P levels are critical. In their fields, the team aimed for levels of P above 25 ppm and K above 140 ppm. What they also found is that micronutrients offered poor ROI on their land, but micronutrients are best used where soil fertility is extremely poor.

Many growers tend to overlook fertilizing for soybean yields. Instead, they use that as an off-year amendment by using the soybean to reside as a base to fertilize for the following year’s corn crop. However, ensuring they have adequate levels of potassium or applying potash to those fields going into soybeans is very important. The lesson here is about knowing the levels, rather than just applying a fix. You can apply a fix and still not have great results, but when you know the values, you ensure crop success.

Soybean Cyst Nematodes

The Bean Team brings up an important fact—the rotation of crops in conjunction with the rotation of genetic resistance. Sean notes that managing soybean cyst nematodes (SCN) continue to be an issue. Many new products on the market help to eliminate or alleviate some of the pressure that SCN place on the soybean seedlings. SCN are considered to be the number-one yield-robbing pest for soybeans, much like corn rootworms are for corn. So, anything that we can do to help manage SCN outside of just using good, high-yielding, cyst-tolerant varieties is going to be an improvement. Good SCN management usually means higher yields. 

Post Emergent Weed Control Is Key

The Bean Team used a five-pronged approach to weed control with an overall cost of about $35 per acre. The biggest consideration of many growers is their herbicide program. The goal is to make sure that we are eliminating the early-season competition and using a good foundation herbicide with a couple different modes of action that help yield. Taking off some of that pressure from farmers so as not to be reliant on the glyphosate molecule to control weeds is important. As we look at water hemp, Palmer amaranth and additional issues coming around, a multimode plan benefits the development of a good building block or a good, clean foundation to achieve top-end soybean yields.

Pros and Cons of Insecticides and Fungicides

Insecticides, I’m sorry to say, will probably be scrutinized. The neonicotinoids that we have typically used are coming under attack right now because of their negative impact on honeybees and nontarget pests. We need to ensure that we have an option for protecting against those seed-feeding insects.

Fungicides too have been linked to problems associated with honeybees. They are important for early-sowing crop survival to minimize the effects of Pythium and other blights that affect seedlings. 

The last key point that I’d like to make is that soybean yield will change based on the environment’s impact on the land. Knowing the history of each field becomes paramount because the grower will want to weigh options that offset such variable changes to the land. 

Using these basic steps does not mean that growers are going to see triple-digit soybean yields. The goal, however, should not be to hit triple digits, but instead to improve your crop yield by 10 percent. Those little gains add profit to the bottom line, and if you follow along with the Bean Team's methods, you are adding to your bottom line without the significant cost of top-shelf inputs. 


Winter Meetings - 2015

Conservation Cropping Seminars
Topics covered include:
- Improvements for soil health
- Cover Crops that work
- Informational networking with exhibitors & speakers
Times: 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  Dates and Locations of the seminars:
January 27th, 2015 
DeKalb County Farm Bureau Building
1350 W Prairie Dr., Sycamore, IL
February 4th, 2015
Lake Land College
5001 Lake Land Blvd., West Building Room 123, Mattoon, IL
Click here for a campus map.
Feruary 18th, 2015 
Western Illinois University
1 University Circle, University Union Building, Macomb, IL
Click here for a campus map.
Register online here or contact the Ashkum office for a registration form.  $20 registration fee required, lunch included.  CCA - 5.0 SWM CEUs available for attending.
ProHarvest Seeds Forage and Cover Crop Informational Meeting
Topics Covered:
- Fall applied N and Cover Crops
- Cover Crop Establishment
- HiGest 360-Low Lignin Alfalfa and Alfalfa/Hay Management
- Whats your 365 day yield strategy
- Summer Annuals

January 21st, 2015
Parke Regency Hotel and Conference Center
1413 Leslie Dr., Bloomington, IL 61704
9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Lunch provided.  Open to everyone, free of charge.  Please RSVP by January 14, 2015 to the Ashkum office.

Check out our News and Events to find an event near you.  We will be updating this daily with field days and educational events.
Also on our website, check out the links page for research data, product information, and university blogs.

Soil Health and Cover Crop Field Meetings:

Educational Seminars
Topics covered include:
- Integrating cover crops within conventional farming methods
- Keys to Soil Health
- Cover crop plot and soil pits
- Cover crop species options
Iroquois County SWCD & Leitz Farms
- Dec. 9th from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
- Milford Family Restaurant
    - 107 E Jones Street, Milford, IL 60953
- Weather Permitting, soil pits and a plot tour will be held after the meeting
-Please RSVP by Friday, Dec. 5th to Thad or Donna at the Iroquois SWCD (815)432-6055
- Speakers: Mark Bramstedt, NRCS Soil Scientist; Doug Hanson, ProHarvest Seeds
CTIC and Purdue University Cover Crop Workshop
- Dec. 9th from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
- Becks Ag Center
   - 4540 US 52 West, West Lafayette, IN 47906
- Please RSVP to Sara Hagmann (765)494-9555
- Speakers include: Wallace Tyner, Purdue; Dan Towery, Ag Conservation Solutions; Eileen Kladivko, Purdue; Barry Fisher, NRCS Agronomist
Check out our News and Events page to find an event near you.  We will be updating this daily with field days and educational events near you. 
Also on our website, check out the links page for research data, product information, and university blogs. 


Anhydrous Ammonia Effects on Soil Properties

By: John Woerner


Anhydrous ammonia is sometimes portrayed as being "bad for the soil."  A common accusation is that NH3 makes the soil hard or "burns" up the organic matter.  A long-term (10 year) study was conducted in Kansas to determine the effects of various nitrogen sources on several soil properties.  Results from the study showed that there were no significant differences in soil bulk density (a measure of soil compaction) among N sources or between N sources and untreated plots.  This was true whether bulk density was measured deep (deep enough to be under any old plow layer) or shallow.  Also, the effect on soil pH and soil O.M. was similar for all three nitrogen sources compared.  Applications of any of the N sources reduced soil pH when compared to the control.  Nitrification of ammonium is an acid-forming reaction, and a pH drop is expected.


Soil organic matter content was not affected by the use of nitrogen fertilizers.  There was no difference from the organic matter measured in the soil that had not received the nitrogen fertilizers.  It is obvious that the anhydrous ammonia did not "burn up" the organic matter in the soil.


If applied properly, anhydrous ammonia continues to be an excellent source of nitrogen.  There is not research to suggest that this product has a negative effect on soil properties.


Field Observations

by: John Woerner

Fungicide makes a difference even in 70 bushel soybeans. Applications of a fungicide plus an insecticide added over 5 bushels to already 70 bushel beans. If you made a fungicide application this year, pay attention to each variety’s response. Some varieties do respond differently.

SDS reared its ugly head in a few fields this year with dramatic affects. Several reports of SDS affecting either entire fields or wide swaths in a field with yields being dragged as low as 35 bpa. Again, pay attention to the varieties being affected and those that weren’t. Also, SDS could be an indicator of a high SCN population. Keep these thoughts in mind when selecting your soybean varieties for next year.

Considering a fall herbicide application? Select your spring herbicide now to prevent possible stacking of like chemistries. Odds are the winter this year will be different from last year (frozen from start to finish not allowing herbicides to dissapate), but why take the chance? Check product labels, restrictions are clearly marked.

Based on results from plant tissue tests, sulfur and zinc levels in corn have been on the decline. Whether this result is due to lower levels obtained from the atmosphere or due to higher production levels or a combination of both is unclear. What is clear, though, is that these nutrients need to be supplemented. Both can be added to dry fertilizer or as a liquid with spring applications. Sulfur is a component of several enzymes that regulate photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation. Remember from our discussions, we want to maximize photosynthesis as late into the season as possible. Proper Sulfur uptake needs to be maintained.

Weekly Scouting Report - September 23, 2014

Hello everyone! For the most part we have finished scouting for 2014. The main issue I’ve seen during this pre-harvest pass is stalk quality. Anthracnose came in late and has done a lot of damage across the region. Nitrogen deficiencies from elevation or nitrogen management are other causes of poor plant health. So again, I must reiterate the importance of keeping an eye on stalk strength and health when making harvest timing decisions.


Another thing I’ve noticed is that moisture from plant to plant can change by 3-4 points. Plants that have Anthracnose are drier compared to the healthy green ones. When taking hand samples, be sure to pay attention to the difference in plants.

Early reports have come in that test weight is not as high as anticipated. That may change as later maturity hybrids are harvested.

Early yield reports are good for both corn and soybeans. Corn yields are coming in at a very respectable 180-230 bushel per acre. Early soybeans reports range from 55-75 bushels per acre.

Please be careful out there and have a safe and profitable harvest.


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



Weekly Scouting Report - September, 16, 2014


Hello everyone. I hope everyone survived the wet season we witnessed last week. With that said there was not much scouting that went on, but there was a lot of discussion throughout my network about the amount of Anthracnose that is being found in the corn fields. I looked at fields yesterday and saw how it is affecting stalk and general plant health. There may be three out of ten plants that have prematurely died because of the disease. When I pushed plants to check stalk strength, these are the ones that break. With the conditions we are experiencing this year, this matter will only get worse. So the question is where does the stalk quality curve cross with the grain moisture curve? Wet corn is better than down corn. The following pictures are examples of what Anthracnose looks like in corn. I hope they will help you identify the problem and act accordingly.

Anthracnose of corn, caused by the fungus Colletotrichum graminicola, is a disease that affects leaves and stalks. Symptoms appear initially on lower leaves as small, oval water-soaked lesions that enlarge and turn tan to brown with yellow to reddish-brown borders. Lesions may coalesce and blight entire leaves. Older lesions will turn gray in the center with small black specks. These fungal structures (acervuli) look like black spines when viewed with a hand lens. Anthracnose leaf blight may be followed by top kill and stalk rot. The leaf blight rarely causes large yield losses; the stalk rot phase is most important.




Symptoms on stalks appear as water-soaked areas on the surface of the lower internodes, that later develop into brownish linear streaks. These streaks turn black later in the season. Larger, oval, black areas may also develop. Pith of infected stalks disintegrates and is gray to dark brown. Severely infected stalks are likely to lodge.

This disease is favored by cool to warm, wet, humid weather, reduced tillage, and stresses that result in early senescence. The fungus overwinters in infected crop residue (leaves, leaf sheaths and stalks) and spores are spread by splashing rain and wind.


Peggy Sellers, Purdue University

Weekly Scouting Report - September 10, 2014

Hello! We are starting our 3rd trip through corn this week. I have noticed two things in the corn I have scouted. One is the presence of ear molds, the other is anthracnose in the upper part of the plant. The yield checks we are very good. Ear consistency is very good with size differences occurring in different soil types. Low areas and low CEC areas are showing nitrogen deficiencies and that’s where I am seeing stalk issues. Below are examples of anthracnose and different ear molds.



Ear Mold


Gibberella ear rot is caused by the fungus Gibberella zeae, also known as Fusarium graminearum. It usually begins at the tip of the ear and appears red or pink, or occasionally white. Gibberella sometimes rots the entire ear. Infections occur more commonly in cool, wet weather after silking and through the late summer. Gibberella can produce vomitoxin and zearalenone.


Fusarium ear rot is the most common fungal disease on corn ears. It is caused by several species of Fusarium. Symptoms of Fusarium ear rots are a white to pink- or salmon-colored mold, beginning anywhere on the ear or scattered throughout. Often the decay begins with insect-damaged kernels. Usually it does not involve the whole ear. Infected kernels are often tan or brown, or have white streaks. These fungi can produce mycotoxins known as fumonisins.


Diplodia fungus initially appears as a white mold beginning at the base of the ear. The mold and the kernels then turn grayish brown and rot the entire ear. A very distinguishing characteristic is the appearance of raised black bumps (pycnidia) on the moldy husk or kernels. Diplodia ear rot occurs most often in fields under reduced tillage where corn follows corn.


Aspergillus flavus can produce aflatoxins. It is an olive-green, powdery mold. In Iowa, Aspergillus is much more common in hot, dry years. The fungus can be detected in corn because it produces compounds that are fluorescent under black light, but this method does not directly detect the presence of aflatoxins.


Cladosporium fungi often infect kernels damaged by insects, hail, or frost. Cladosporium appears gray to black or very dark green and can have a powdery appearance.

Let ProHarvest Seeds help you with your 365-day yield strategy.


Weekly Scouting Report - August 29, 2014

Hello everyone! We scouted corn in the Taylorville, Palmer, and Modesto areas this week. Plant health looked good with or without fungicide. Corn that was sprayed with fungicide had little Gray Leaf Spot above the ear. How will that effect yield is yet to be determined. The average growth stage for the area is ½ to ¾ milk line. According to the charts we have another 1-2 weeks before black layer. Yield estimates are very good.

While scouting soybeans this week, I saw a few insects starting to show, such as Bean Leaf Beetles, Rootworm Beetles, Grasshoppers, and Brown Stink Bugs. Sudden Death Syndrome has also begun to show its ugly self. If the disease symptoms are in question, split the bean stalk and look for brown discoloration in the outer portion. The pith should be white in color.



Sign Up to our Newsletter