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Agronomy ADVICE

Week of September 20, 2010


Tips from the Channel® Field Check Up Series

Seedsmanship At WorkTM

Overcoming this Season’s Corn Growing Challenges


Many farmers have enough corn harvested to turn in a report card for the 2010
growing season, and many will be marked “Needs to Improve.” Corn yields have
varied widely between fields and even within fields. In a few cases, fields with a
history of producing the highest corn yields struggled the most and produced
at very low levels this year. Customers are asking, “What just happened?” and
“How should I manage differently to get back on track in 2011?”
Continuous corn experienced a “hangover” from 2009 due to
several factors:
• High yields produced large amounts of corn residue.
•Late harvest left little warm weather for residue decomposition.
• Fewer fall tillage opportunities left compacted soils and cornstalks to carry
over into 2010.
This season had a promising start with the possibility for early planting and generally
good conditions for stand establishment. As the growing season progressed, a
unique set of conditions challenged the corn crop:
We experience excessive precipitation in May and June.
•Saturated soils limited root growth and the volume of soil explored.
• Saturated soils defeated nearly every method of nitrogen management.
•Overall plant nutrition was restricted by waterlogged soils.
• Residue breakdown lagged behind and nitrogen immobilization was
damaging to the crop.
• Flat, poorly-drained soils suffered the most.
Continued >
Agronomy ADVICE
ek of September 20, 2010
Page Two

Much-above normal temperatures were in place by mid-season and


stayed through maturity.
• Higher night temperatures reversed some of the photosynthetic gains made
during the day.
• Rapid growing degree day accumulation accelerated grain fill and reduced
kernel depth.
• Heat caused areas of fields with early season problems to shut down
prematurely.
• Limited roots, short N supply and late heat caused corn plants to
cannibalize themselves, hurting both yield and standability.
How do I set myself up for great yield
potential in 2011?
Early harvest this year will help reverse the
residue, compaction and tillage problems of
last season.
• Deep till this fall to fix compacted soils and
blend cornstalks with soil.
• Residue breakdown will be favored by
additional weeks of warm temperatures.
• For N management, consider multiple
application times (fall/spring, fall/spring/in-
crop, spring/in-crop) to improve the nitrogen
supply to the corn plant.
•Talk with your Channel seedsman regarding matching N rates to crop
rotation and seeding rate to set yourself up for maximum profitability in 2011.

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