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.



Weekly Scouting Report - August 12, 2014


I scouted corn fields near Hoopeston this week that were planted the end of April. The corn was in the late dough stage, not too far from denting. More corn leaf aphids are showing up, but they shouldn’t be a problem in corn with adequate moisture after pollination.

I have received a few calls about whether corn is firing from lack of nitrogen or is it just going through its normal maturity stages. Some questions I ask are: when was the nitrogen applied, how much rain have you received, what soil type and what stage is the corn in?  These are all reasons a plant may start firing prematurely. I believe the future will hold better ways of monitoring N loss and applying before a problem may arise.

In a year with normal rainfall, leaf death should occur when the corn plant reaches black layer or physiological maturity. Bottom leaves should begin to die first and then progress towards the upper portion of the corn plant as maturity is reached. N deficiency is a typical, naturally occurring event late in the season. Corn with a dense canopy blocks the sunlight from the lower leaves and they cannot photosynthesize.

The plant shuts these leaves down and uses the nutrients they would use elsewhere. If firing happens too early though, and reaches above the ear leaf, tip back could occur. Also stalk quality could become an issue because of cannibalization.

Weekly Scouting Report - August 4, 2014

I scouted corn fields in the Streator area this week. Disease pressure has increased slightly in the past two weeks. I could see differences by hybrid at this point. Gray Leaf Spot and Common Rust are the two main diseases that I’ve found, with Northern Leaf Blight spotted occasionally. Corn leaf aphids were the most prevalent pest I found.   I did see a few rootworm beetles and Japanese beetles. Below are some pictures I took of corn leaf aphids and an explanation of what this pest can do to corn.

The corn leaf aphid is a blue-green or gray, soft-bodied, spherical insect about the size of a pinhead [1/16 inch (1.6 mm) in length]. It has approximately 9 generations per year. Female corn leaf aphids do not lay eggs, as do most other insects, but give birth to living young. These young, called nymphs, resemble the adults except that they are smaller and are sexually immature. Adults and nymphs can often be found clustered within the whorls or upper parts of corn plants over isolated or wide areas of a field.


Most corn leaf aphids are wingless. However, as populations increase, some develop delicate, filmy wings. These wings enable them to fly to uninfested plants to start new colonies.


Like other insects, aphids shed their skin as they grow. These numerous white to gray discarded skins give the appearance of a white mold or ash on leaf surfaces. Aphids also secrete a sticky, sugary substance, known as honeydew (excrement).

Corn leaf aphids do not generally appear until mid-June or early July. Since they are not cold hardy, they migrate each year into the mid and upper Midwest from southern areas of the USA. It is feasible that some overwinter in the lower Midwest.


Heavily infested corn leaves may wilt, curl, and show yellow patches of discoloration. When tassels and silks are covered with honeydew, the pollination process may be disrupted. Also, excessive aphid feeding within the whorl prior to tassel emergence appears to be directly related to incomplete kernel development and/or barren ears.


(Purdue University)

Weekly Scouting Report - July 31, 2014

I scouted corn in Iroquois and Kankakee County this week and I didn’t see anything that caused concern. Insect numbers and disease pressures are low. Most applications of fungicide have been sprayed. Some fields are showing signs of nitrogen loss.

This week I decided to exhibit the R2 – R5 growth stages. I think this is important because I’ve been asked numerous times about what could go wrong this late in the season.   The vulnerability of this crop lowers as it moves through these four stages:


Kernel Blister Stage (Growth Stage R2)

About 10 to 14 days after silking, the developing kernels are whitish "blisters" on the cob and contain abundant clear fluid. The ear silks are mostly brown and drying rapidly. Some starch is beginning to accumulate in the endosperm. Severe stress can easily abort kernels at pre-blister and blister stages. Kernel moisture content is approximately 85 percent.


Kernel Milk Stage (R3)

About 18 to 22 days after silking, the kernels are mostly yellow and contain "milky" white fluid. The milk stage of development is the infamous "roasting ear" stage, that stage where you will find die-hard corn aficionados standing out in their field nibbling on these delectable morsels. Starch continues to accumulate in the endosperm. Endosperm cell division is nearly complete and continued growth is mostly due to cell expansion and starch accumulation. Severe stress can still abort kernels, although not as easily as at the blister stage. Kernel moisture content is approximately 80 percent.


Kernel Dough Stage (R4)

About 24 to 28 days after silking, the kernel's milky inner fluid is changing to a "doughy" consistency as starch accumulation continues in the endosperm. The shelled cob is now light red or pink. The kernels have reached about 50 percent of their mature dry weight. Kernel moisture content is approximately 70 percent by R4. Kernel abortion is much less likely to occur once kernels have reached early dough stage, but severe stress can continue to affect eventual yield by reducing kernel weight.


Kernel Dent Stage (R5)

About 35 to 42 days after silking, all or nearly all of the kernels are denting near their crowns. Kernel moisture content at the beginning of the dent stage is approximately 55 percent.

A distinct horizontal line appears near the dent end of the kernel and slowly progresses to the tip end of the kernel over the next 3 weeks or so. This line is called the "milk line" and marks the boundary between the liquid (milky) and solid (starchy) areas of the maturing kernels.

Severe stress can continue to limit kernel dry weight accumulation between the dent stage and physiological maturity. Estimated yield loss due to total plant death at full dent is about 40%, while total plant death at half-milk line would decrease yield by about 12%

Weekly Scouting Report - July 22, 2014

I scouted soybeans this week and found bean leaf beetles. They are a quick little insect and very hard to find. As soon as they sense your presence, they fall to the ground. I entered the fields and immediately noticed leaf feeding. The feeding reminds me of what a shot gun blast would look like, having numerous small holes. I found many of them in the upper most node, feeding on the new growth. They like cooler weather and this cooler weather has them out more during the day. Late morning or early evening are normally the best time to find them. Economic threshold in the reproductive stage of the soybean (R1-R6) is 2-3 bean leaf beetles per plant. Insecticide application should be applied when beetles reach this level.


Adult bean leaf beetles are small insects about 1/5 inch in length. They often have four, large, quadrangular, black markings on the wing covers and a black or brown head. Occasionally these four rectangular marks are reduced to two, or they may be completely absent. The most constant identifying character for this beetle is the presence of a black triangle behind the neck. They come in a wide array of colors.


Direct injury results from bean leaf beetles feeding on soybean pods. This direct injury occurs an average rate of about two tenths of a pod per day. Bean leaf beetles also cause yield loss through injury by the transmission of bean pod mottle virus or by the secondary invasion of fungi.





Fungicide: Timing is Everything


by: John Woerner

Fungicides prevent infections better than they cure infection.  If spores land on a plant that has already been treated, they will be killed as they start to infect.  If a plant is treated after infections are about more than 3 days old, these infections will continue to develop into lesions.  Effective disease control requires that the plant be treated just as the disease is becoming established.


I base my treatment threshold on proximity to the ear leaf.  From the ear leaf up is the area of the plant I want to protect.  Yes, the fungicides that are available today do better just preventing versus curing, but these fungicides do have both capabilities.  In reality, the corn plant can survive just fine with some lesions on the bottom portion of the plant.  Therefore, I can cure that are below the ear leaf and then prevent disease from developing above the ear leaf with the proper timing of a fungicide.


What should you keep in mind.  Is the hybrid susceptible to one or more leaf diseases, are leaf diseases currently present, are you following a corn crop, and does the field have a high yield potential.   Also, consider the pollination success.  If the hybrid has pollinated successfully out to the tip of the ear, your goal should be to protect as much as the leaf area as possible.  To reduce the risk of kernel abortion, help the plant retain as much leaf surface area as possible.  More leaf area equals more photosynthesis, more photosynthesis equals more sugar generated in the plant, more sugar equals more carbohydrates which equals better kernel fill.


How late can I spray?




Spraying after R2 (blister) reduces the chance for the best economic return.  This does not mean that a fungicide cannot be sprayed past R2.  Some fungicides are labeled up to within 14 days of harvest.  However, the potential for a yield increase reduces dramatically.


Other benefits can include; enhancing crop yields even without the presence of any significant leaf disease.  These chemicals have a direct effect on the physiology of the plant, promoting plant health and yield.  However, this needs to be further researched.  Please treat in regard to the prevention or treatment of disease.

Weekly Scouting Update - July 15, 2014

I scouted in the Hoopeston and Streator areas last week. I found light Gray Leaf Spot and a trace amount of Rust. I did not see anything that concerned me at this time. I saw very little insect action. The Streator area had a lot of goose-necked corn from saturated soils and wind, apart from that, crops look very good. Heavy rains hit many areas this weekend and I’ve seen plants affected by the lack of oxygen in the soil. With dry weather, crops should improve quickly. I have seen some nutrient deficiencies showing up in wet areas. The pictures below explain three of the most common deficiencies.


Nitrogen (N)

Plants are pale green to yellow with chlorosis beginning on lower leaves and progressing upwards as the deficiency intensifies; plants have spindly stalks and growth is slow.

Characteristic feature of nitrogren deficiency in corn is yellowing proceeds from the leaf tip down the midrib in a V-shaped pattern.


Phosphorus (P)

Phosphorus deficient plants may remain darker green than normal plants and develop purple discoloration first on the underside and later throughout.  Plants grow slowly, stalks are thin and shortened, and maturity is delayed.



Potassium (K)

Potassium deficiency appears first as yellowing on the tips of lower leaves and progresses along the outer leaf margins as yellow, light tan, and then brown discoloration. The inner part of the leaf blade near the midrib usually remains green. Chlorotic areas may develop throughout the leaf. Stalks of deficient plants are weak and tend to lodge. The ears are chaffy and unfilled.




Weekly Scouting Update

The diseases shown on this page are what I consider the main three major leaf diseases. I have been scouting in the Taylorville, Modesta, Atlanta, and Streator areas and have not seen anything that concerns me at this time, however, circumstances can change quickly.   Please keep an eye on your crops.

Gray Leaf Spot


  • Lesions first appear as small, necrotic spots with halos
  • The lesions become rectangular, 2-4 mm to 1-6 mm in size and have a gray appearance
  • Mature lesions have distinct parallel edges and appear opaque when put up to the light


Common Rust


  • Pustules are oval to circular, and red to dark brown
  • Pustules are common on both leaf surfaces
  • Rust spores (urediniospores) are cinnamon brown
  • Leaves as well as sheaths can be infected, and under severe conditions leaf chlorosis or death may occur 


Northern Leaf Blight


  • Lesions are gray to green in color, cigar shaped, and (3 - 15 cm) long
  • Lesions may contain prominent, dark areas of sporulation as they mature
  • The length or size of lesions may vary with their different reactions to resistant genes within corn hybrids








Weekly Scouting Report - July 1, 2014


This is what I saw most of last week. I also started to see the long term effects of water saturation in corn fields. The results are yellowing corn and stunted plants.


The excessive water in most areas has caused much of the nitrogen to be leached out of the soil.

Nitrogen and fungicide management will be important tools this growing season.







Weekly Scouting Report - June 23, 2014


Saturday night’s storm that hit Iroquois County left a path of destruction unlike any I have ever seen.


If you were anywhere near a storm in the last week, you should check your corn fields for green snap or hail damage. Corn is growing very fast and is extremely brittle.







Scouting Report - June 19, 2014

I saw the first signs of leaf disease this week, including holcus leaf spot and rust. I did not see anything that worried me, but it should be something to keep an eye on in the coming weeks when decisions are being made about applying fungicide.

I was down in the Taylorville, Illinois, area this week and I saw a lot of leaf feeding from nymph size grasshoppers.

I also saw areas of what I believe are corn borer feeding on refuge plants. I could not find any of the culprits. The corn crop is progressing very well and as of today most of the areas that I scout are in good condition. The areas of excessive moisture are slowly improving.


Growing Degree Days (current versus average):

Atlanta, Illinois


Hoopeston, Illinois


Streator, Illinois


St. Anne, Illinois



Palmer, Illinois




Week of June 9 Scouting Report

Weed pressure is gaining momentum. Growing conditions are perfect with the rain and warm weather. While these conditions allow the corn and soybeans to grow, so do the weeds.

I would suggest making a loop through your fields a week or so after spraying. This is a waterhemp weed that was sprayed a week ago with glyphosate and shows no signs of being affected. Also, in past years, I’ve seen extremely heavy weed pressured areas produce escapes because the larger plants provide a protective canopy for the smaller plants beneath them. Don’t be surprised in the combine.


Continue to be vigilant in your surveillance for insect pests. I have not seen anything that caused alarm, but that doesn’t mean it cannot happen. A dead or wilted plant standing in the row is evidence of cut worm.


Taylorville: 563 GDD; 1.69” rain in the last 7 days

Atlanta: 413 GDD; 1.33” rain in the last 7 days

Hoopeston: 322 GDD; 1.86” rain in the last 7 days

Streator: 419 GDD; 1.13” rain in the last 7 days

Kankakee: 308 GDD; 1.05” rain in the last 7 days



ProHarvest: Weekly Scouting Report

My first week of scouting was in the Crescent City, Hoopeston, Ashkum and St. Anne areas. I looked at corn that had been planted around the 3rd week of April. I started on Tuesday morning and found plants that were damaged and yellowed. By Wednesday evening, good color had returned and everything was improving quickly.


Many people were questioning whether to replant or how much to replant. However, plant populations were very good. Target populations were being reached, except in areas where there had been excess standing water.


I saw something this week that I have never seen before. The majority of the field I was in was at the two leaf corn stage. There are a lot of sand areas in this field and it first appeared that excess water had snuffed out a lot of corn plants. Investigating further, I discovered viable seeds just starting to sprout. I concluded the sand had stayed cooler than the darker dirt and the seeds just had not germinated yet.                                                                              

I have not seen any insect issues. Morning glories seem to be a common theme in the fields I’ve looked at. Many of the pre-plant chemicals seem to be working on the Morning glories, but they are a tough weed and we will see. See you soon.



Taylorville-Atlanta                                                            356 GDD

Ashkum-Piper City-Hoopeston-Milford-Covington, In   242 GDD

Streator                                                                              320 GDD

Kankakee                                                                            236 GDD


Seedling Diseases

b2ap3_thumbnail_159.jpg Pythium; Damping-off is the first seedling disease to occur in a growing season because this fungus prefers cold soil temperatures. Dead seedlings may be visible on the ground with infected plants killed before the first true leaf stage. Plants often have a rotted appearance. Leaves of infected seedlings are initially gray-green and then turn brown. A few days later, the plants die. Diseased plants are easily pulled from the soil because of rotted roots.




b2ap3_thumbnail_162.jpgPhytopthora; The symptoms of Phytophthora damping-off are very similar to those of Pythium damping-off. However, the Phytophthora fungus prefers warm soil (approximately 80°F). If symptoms similar to those caused by Pythium occur when soil temperatures are warm or in late-planted soybean, the disease is more likely caused by Phytophthora. Another way to determine the causal fungus is to check for stem rot. In June or early July, if weather is favorable, Phytophthora infection may continue to develop on the soybean stem, resulting in chocolate brown discoloration from the soil line up, a unique symptom of this disease.




b2ap3_thumbnail_163.jpgRhizoctonia root rot; Similar to Phytophthora damping-off, seedling blight by Rhizoctonia normally appears when the weather becomes warm. However, disease caused by Rhizoctonia exhibits different symptoms from those caused by Pythium and Phytophthora. Stem discoloration by Rhizoctonia is usually limited to the cortical layer of the main root and hypocotyl. Infected stems remain firm and dry without rot appearance typical to Pythium or Phytophthora rot. Typical symptoms are localized brown-to-reddish brown lesions on the hypocotyl at the soil line.


Seed Spacing, Depth, and Planter Speed

John Woener, Consulting Agronomist

Location, location, location may be the number one priority when purchasing real estate, but location, location, location could also be a farmers number one priority when the planter rolls.  Seed location or depth is at the top of the list in planter performance.

With high population it is imperative to maintain and adjust machinery so seed spacing is even and depth control is consistent.  Planter performance is the most fundamental factor in determining what awaits the combine.  You have one chance to get it right.

What's the goal?  You want a plant spacing variability of less than 25% and all plants emerged within 48 hours of each other.  The uniformity of emergence impacts yield in good years and bad, in dry years and wet years.  Plant spacing is also important in good and bad years, but tends to play a larger role for farmers who are planting at their optimum population or in stressful growing conditions.

Late emerging plants arrive only in time to sabotage yield.  Seeds need to germinate within 48 hours of each other and emerge together.  Factors that affect emergence: uniform plant depth, seed to soil contact, uniform moisture around the seed, and soil temperatures.  The single biggest factor is uniform planting depth.  If you are scouting a field that has uneven emergence, dig several plants that have emerged and several plants that have not or just beginning to.  Measure and compare the length of the mesocotyl.  The difference in length correlates directly to the difference in planting depth.  If the mesocotyls are the same length, then the difference in emergence is likely cold soil temperatures.

When the farmer plants shallow, the nodal roots form close to the soil surface where the environment can be fairly hostile.  Dry soil, compacted soil, and soil-applied herbicides can all stress the young developing roots and the corn plant they support.  Planters should be set to place seed at 1 3/4 to 2 inches deep.

Several emergence test results were published over the winter, and in each test corn that was planted at least two inches deep emerged more uniformly and yielded more than the shallower planted corn.  I have planted corn over 3.5 inches deep and have seen corn planted that deep emerge fine.  That's not my goal though.  The point is that today's hybrids have the ability and the vigor to emerge from deeper planting depths.  If you find yourself going to the field contemplating the depth to plant at, choose deeper. 

All planters are designed to operate at a certain speed, usually between 5 and 6 mph.  Well, that is, up until this year.  Until proven otherwise, 5.5 to 5.8 mph is the ideal planting speed.  At that speed, when the seed leaves the seed tube, the seed will not have forward momentum.  If the seed has forward momentum, it will have the tendency to tumble in the seed trench causing poor spacing and /or uneven depth.  In my experience, slowing the planter down has been the number on factor in improving his stand of corn.

Cover Crops: Investing in your Soil

 I was recently asked to speak at the National Conference on Cover Crops & Soil Health in Omaha, Nebraska, on the importance of cover crops and how you can utilize government funding to make smart choices in soil management. Here at ProHarvest, we encourage farmers to use the same approach on cover crops that are used when buying seed for corn, soybean, or other high-value crops. We want to be the dealer that helps you make choices about cover crops and here’s why:

The National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers in order to address natural resource concerns and encourage conservation planning. In order to be eligible for these grants, farmers must invest in cover crops that meet a minimum requirement—and ProHarvest offers the quality product needed to not only meet those requirements but also increase germination rates and cash crop yields. We’ve found the lower quality seed does not have the proper amount of pure, live seed and can often times contain multiple lots in one bag and be harder to kill. A proper cover crop seed should suppress weeds, produce nutrients, control erosion, reduce compaction, aerate, manage microbial activity, and improve water infiltration. Our cover crops have the quality that allows you to use less, thus saving you money in the long run. You wouldn’t put lesser quality seeds in your field to grow corn and soybeans, so why would you buy a lesser quality seed to plant cover crops?

ProHarvest wants to be your cover crop expert. We are here to assist you in the education, research, and purchase of cover crop seeds. We can answer your questions and help write a soil management plans to meet the unique needs of your farmland. We take pride in our product, and that’s why we make cover crops an integral part of our business.





Harvest is slowly getting started!  Early results of ProHarvest products have been great, with reports of 3066CR2Y soybeans "the best beans I have ever raised", as well as strong reports on 8023StaxRIB corn.  Early test plots are confirming the performance of 8330 and 8388 as well.

It appears that harvest speed will increase quickly next week.  At ProHarvest, we do ask that you take some time and make sure this is a safe harvest for all!

At ProHarvest, we are extremely excited about our new releases for 2014. We have just completed 3 major field nights in Illinois, showcasing our plots in Ashkum, Hoopeston and Streator. These plots have different growing conditions and soil types. This on-farm research, along with many other research locations, verifies the products that are in our line-up. With data from our own fields, we are making decisions based on hands-on observations. With the release of many new products, we are providing you with a complete package of seed. Our research is verified and statistically assessed to give accurate information.

Using data from many plots and research locations, we can then recommend the correct placement of our varieties on your farm. Our Seed Specialists spend time with you to learn your soil types, your practices and your preferences. This information, along with production decisions including fungicides, insecticides, seed treatments, the previous year’s crop and plant populations, helps you to maximize profit and reduce risk.

Our ongoing research of cover crops is verifying increased yield in both corn and soybeans, due to better soil health. Trials vary but our goal is to help each farmer maximize the potential benefits of cover crops.

The most important personalized service we can give our customer is placing the correct variety on each different soil type and farming practice. With our new Genuity ®SmartStax Complete™ hybrids of 6101, 6444, 6990, 8110, 8220 and 8301, ProHarvest offers a more complete line-up of StaxRIB products than most companies. Our new Genuity® Roundup 2 Yield® soybean varieties of 2271C, 2871C, 2971C, 3666C, 3835C and 3971C, provides our farmers deep product availability.

As we continue to go through this growing season, our promise to you is to provide accurate information about all our products. Our Seed Specialists are committed to your successful harvest.

UPDATE: COVID-19 Statement | March 23, 2020

March 23

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March 23, 2020


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