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Sidewall Compaction 2019

In every year that corn is planted, there are spots in fields that are on the wet side while the majority of the field is fit to go. Weather events or the calendar are usually responsible for prompting a rushed planting decision somewhere in the Midwest.  This year in Eastern Iowa we have been pushed into planting things on the ‘marginal’ moisture side on a larger scale, setting up a perfect scenario for sidewall compaction.  This phenomenon occurs as disc openers smear and compact the sides of the planter furrow, making it extremely tough for seminal roots to break out and do their job.  When digging up such a situation, both sides of the furrow generally open like a book without crumbling like Figure 1 below.  The roots remain mostly within the furrow and are commonly referred to as ‘Pancake’ or ‘Hatchet’ roots as seen in Figure 2.
 
Sidewall compaction is not a uniform sight throughout a field, most often showing up in traditional wet spots.  Medium and fine textured soils with higher water holding capacities are slower to dry out resulting in more vulnerability whereas coarse textured or high organic soils generally have less incidence.  Plants in sidewall compacted areas often have: poor seed to soil contact, exhibit reduced or uneven germination/stands, are stunted, have restricted/reduced root masses, show nutrient deficiencies, or even die.
 
Roots also become more susceptible to drought conditions which can make sidewalls dry out and open up causing what’s referred to as ‘Rootless’ or ‘Floppy Corn Syndrome’.  Essentially as the furrow dries out and opens, the meristematic root tip dries out and ceases growth, at times leaving only the mesocotyl to sustain growth.  Figure 3 shows dried out nodal roots that ceased growth as well as the mesocotyl and only one nodal root still functioning.  The main way corn overcomes this predicament is a good shot of rain to once again moisten roots and continue their growth, one positive of the excess rain so far this year.
 
Ways to reduce sidewall compaction:
  • Wait for fit soils if possible (Use the ribbon test)
  • Get out and dig across the furrow to evaluate proper seed to soil contact
  • Use spoked closing wheels to better crumble sidewalls
  • Use 1 spoked with 1 solid closing wheel - staggered, spoked in front
  • Reduce down pressure to keep from overpacking moist soils

Conditions change from hour to hour, field to field, and soil to soil – get out and check often, your first time getting it in the ground is often times your best chance at optimum yields.

How long can a corn seed hold its breath?

At this point in the calendar, undoubtedly, there are many corn fields planted around the area. Just as undoubtedly, planting conditions will be like the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” — some will be too cold and wet, some too hot and dry, and some just right. The role as an agronomist usually travels down the road of the first two situations in Goldilocks’ tale — less than ideal planting conditions. Somewhere in the eastern Corn Belt, after a corn field has been planted, a torrential rainfall will occur and/or there will be a cold period where a grower might wonder, “What is to become of the corn seed I just planted? How long can it last in the soil before rotting and dying?” Last season almost gave growers a false impression of corn emergence when most fields emerged in about 8 days. This is certainly not the norm. Most growers would average close to 12 to 14 days for corn to emerge year in and year out. It is a general understanding that corn seed treatments can last 3 weeks give or take. This is also the answer to the title question: How long can corn seed hold its breath? The answer is 3 weeks. The best way to improve upon a more rapid and uniform emergence is to plant into a warming trend. Easier said than done, right? From the time of planting the seed until emergence, the best defense a corn seed has is the seed treatment, as it does not have any natural defenses. Typical corn seed treatments consist of fungicide and insecticide protection. The fungicides usually play the larger part during the “hold my breath” moment. With temperatures in the mid to low 60s, field saturation, and cloudy weather are the perfect environment for slow to little corn seed growth and development. When a corn seed is not developing, pathogens — namely Pythium and Fusarium — could potentially attack a vulnerable seed. Once an infection occurs, it still could take up to several weeks to know the consequences. Rapid growth is really the best medicine for a disease-infected corn seed or seedling. In addition to the disease threats, many insects prey on vulnerable seeds. During a prolonged emergence period, insects such as white grubs, wireworms, and seed corn maggot are the most common culprits to feed on corn seeds. While most seed treatments provide excellent protection in this arena, it is not uncommon to find hotspots in a field based on a variety of different reasons. Ironically enough when you consider a seed holding its breath, oxygen in the soil is another factor one must consider about seed viability/longevity in the soil. Any practice that reduces oxygen or pore space in the soil profile can also cause seed germination/emergence issues. Obviously, a wet, saturated field would qualify here. Outside of weather conditions, though, compaction can be a large threat. Compaction could be caused from heavy equipment. But, if one dives deeper, there is often planter compaction caused from too much down pressure. This is the pressure that is placed by the actual row unit being either too heavy and/or having too much pressure applied. Most of these can be reduced by planter settings, but still can be a hidden problem. In that ideal world, most would simply hit repeat of the 2018 spring season. Unfortunately, there is no easy button here and each year, farm, and field present unique challenges that keep all operators on their toes. Let’s hope that everyone finds that warming trend!

Ohio’s Country Journal • ocj.com • Mid-May 2019

Replant Corn – Best Herbicide Options for Removing an Existing Poor Stand

Prolonged wet weather, heavy rains, flooded fields and cool temperatures have caused some very poor stands in recently planted corn.  Many growers are pondering on whether or not to replant.  Replant involves removing the existing poor stand either by tillage or herbicide.  For those growers wanting to keep an existing pre-emergent herbicide barrier in place and not use tillage, below are the best herbicide options recommended for removing poor stands of Roundup Ready and/or Liberty Link corn.  See sources below for additional information and please consult with the herbicide labels for correct application rates and adjuvants.

  1. Select Max -OR- Intensity One (6 oz/a) + 0.25% NIS + AMS
  • Replant no sooner than 6 days after application
  • Best control with corn no bigger than V2 stage
  • Avoid in-field boom overlaps or excessive crop injury may occur
  • Apply in a minimum of 10 gallons of water per acre
  1. Gramoxone Inteon (2.5 pt/ac for 1-3” tall corn or 3 pt/ac for 4-6” tall corn) + Metribuzin DF (3 oz/ac) + COC (1% v/v)
  • Corn may be planted at any time following application
  • Apply in minimum of 10-15 gallons of water per acre
  • Good control on larger corn up to 6-8 inches.  Use higher end of rate for taller corn.
  1. Gramoxone SL [2.0] (2.5 to 3.5 pt/A) + Linex 4L (0.67 to 1 pt/A) –OR– Atrazine 4L (0.5 to 1 qt/A) + Non-Ionic Surfactant (0.25% to 0.5% v/v)
  • Corn may be planted at any time following application
  • Good control on larger corn up to 6-8 inches.  Use higher end of rate for taller corn. 
  • Apply in minimum of 10-15 gallons of water per acre


Always read and follow the herbicide label when making any of these applications.

Sources:

  1. https://graincrops.blogspot.com/2016/05/corn-replanting-removing-poor-stand.html
  2. https://www.mississippi-crops.com/2019/04/22/new-methods-to-assess-corn-stands-and-make-replant-decisions/
  3. https://ipm.missouri.edu/IPCM/2014/4/Herbicide-Options-for-Killing-Failed-Corn-Stands/
  4. www.aganytime.com/Documents/ArticlePDFs/CornReplantingDecisions.pdf

 

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