Managing late planted crop stress

Soybean progress is well behind the norm due after a wet spring pushed planting later and later and require various management strategies to achieve optimum yields under the current scenario.

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — A veteran northern Illinois certified crop adviser heard from quite a few farmers during the spring deluge say that they were throwing in the towel and not planting anything.

“The next thing I know, we’re getting some phone calls to have product delivered. They didn’t want to give up. They wanted to have a crop,” said Todd Thumma of Golden Harvest.

“We want to do the same thing when it comes to yield. Let’s not give up. Let’s maintain that crop the best we can and get the best yield.”

Thumma provided his recommendations for mitigating late-planted corn and soybean stress in a recent Illinois Soybean Association-hosted podcast.

On Weather Stresses

Right now, I’ve got extremely saturated soils that have a lack of oxygen. If I don’t have oxygen my roots are not going to grow, so I’m not going to have very deep roots to begin with.

I’m also seeing lighter colored plants, seeing nitrogen or sulfur deficiencies, possibly some micronutrient deficiencies going on in both corn and soybeans.

The guys who used starter fertilizer, those plants are off to a lot better start, a lot more consistent start and tend to have a little bit better color to them. I’m traditionally not a big fan of starter on soybeans but it’s looking really good this year from the beginning.

The same with the guys who put nitrogen in with their burndowns on their pre-plant for soybeans and corn, they seem to have a little bit greener plant, a little bit better growth going on now then if those weren’t included. Essentially nitrogen moves with water and has moved it below our typical wet zone right now.

On Crop Recovery

The biggest thing on the corn side is going to be: What is the rest of our weather situation like? If it gets to where the soils starts to get some oxygen prior to V5, that corn plant can recover. It doesn’t like having these bad days.

If I can get it perked up and get some oxygen in the soil so it starts to develop that nodal root system where it belongs and have some nutrients there for it to take up.

Where, if we stay saturated, I’m afraid nutrient availability is going to be dramatically less it’s probably going to cost me kernels around very quickly in the not too distant future for some plants.

For soybeans, I need more of that same thing. I need some drier soil. My biggest concern right now on soybeans is probably going to be can I get the growth and the height out them to canopy.

In certain cases, if I’m trying to canopy a 30-inch row, I may be trying to canopy yet at the end of July, where if you were in a drilled soybean situation there’s a pretty good chance there was canopy by the summer solstice timeframe which is really where you want to be to maximize all of the light interception and I start to flower.

On Managing Stress

We’ve had a fair amount of nitrogen going on as a foliar feed, the same with sulfur, and some micro-packages going on trying to get some micronutrients into the plant to kind of perk it up. There are quite a few guys utilizing some growth regulator products, trying to stimulate some growth and nutrient availability to the plants.

I guess to me, on the flip side, I look at how can I spray a herbicide that is very safe and isn’t going to set my corn or soybean plant back? Because I’m after growth and shading and I want to make that crop as happy as possible and we’ve got some products that are pretty hard on corn even though they’re labeled for it and pretty hard on soybeans even though they’re labeled for it that can really set that crop back.

When I set it back in May or the first part of June, that’s one thing. When I set I back the end of June, that’s completely different.

On Preparing For Repeat

In the event of future springs similar to this one, and preparing for it with certain genetic traits and varieties, I would rather have it as a plan C and D and not necessarily the norm I’d want to plan for.

I don’t want to plan on another year quite like this. But I guess one thing that jumps out to me on the soybean side is can I have phytophthora tolerance built into that plant. We’re already seeing septoria brown spot in soybeans, and it’s just on the unifoliate leafs.

With all of the moisture we’ve had, there’s pythium and phytophthora going on out there right now, so I have those young seedings and how can I protect them by having some genetic resistance or tolerance to phytophthora would really help me on the soybean side.

Seed treatments are paying huge this year. I personally think they’re a no-brainer every year but this year in particular between the seed quality that we had and our cold, wet spring.

My first planted corn and soybeans were in the ground almost three weeks before they emerged. That’s a lot of time to be exposed to fungi and other critters that are out there in the soil.

Tom C. Doran can be reached at 815-780-7894 or Follow him on Twitter at: @AgNews_Doran.


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