Corn stand emergence
By David G. Hallauer
Meadowlark District Extension agent, crops and soils/horticulture
In a previous news column, I noted some research on stand uniformity and planter setup thereof. As noted there, stand uniformity may not have the effect on yield that some other factors do--one of those being the timing of seedling emergence.
In addition to stand uniformity, Northeast Area Extension Crops and Soils Specialist Dr. Stu Duncan also looked at the aforementioned timing of seedling emergence. As other Midwest Universities have noted, stand uniformity can have a huge influence on yields. Research shows that if one of six plants is delayed by two leaf stages, yields can be reduced by four percent. Delay that plant by four leaf stages and the yield drag increases to eight percent. While we often assume that later plant will catch up, it just never seems to.
The next step is determining the cause of delayed seedling emergence. Crusting occurs somewhere each year--and if severe enough can result in damaging delay, even outside of our control. Other factors are in our control, however. Uniform planting depth and making sure crop residue is uniform at planting are two things we can adjust. We may have to do so at harvest in the case of residue, but adjustments are possible to help alleviate some of these differences. Non-uniform moisture in the seed zone, whether because of weather or our tillage/management, can also cause delays. The bottom line is this: evaluate your management from planting through harvest to see what minor changes can be made to enhance uniformity. Judging by the aforementioned research, it could pay huge dividends.
When the temperature reaches ranges like it has on a few days this month, its hard not to want to get out and get some yard work done. With that in mind, one of the first things on your mind should be weed control.
March is an excellent weed control opportunity for spot treatment of broadleaves. Blanket applications at this time can do some good, but not as good as those done in the fall. Still, March is a great time to clean up those "escapees.'
When treating, do so on a day that is 50 degrees F or warmer. Watch the moisture forecast, too. Rain or irrigation within 24 hours of application will reduce effectiveness.
March is not typically the best time for crabgrass preventer. Wait until April for these applications when redbud trees are in full bloom. Crabgrass preventers need to be watered in before they will start to work so plan accordingly.
And as with any weed control challenge, remember that a good, thick lawn is the best weed prevention and may be all that is needed.
Fruit pest control
Its inevitable that at least one pest--insect, fungus, etc., will damage our fruit crops sometime during the year. In some cases, however, an early defense can be key.
If you're a fruit grower, I strongly encourage you to check out a KSU publication called 'Fruit Pest Control for Home Gardens' (C592). It outlines some basic control strategies and timings for small orchards, including product names.
The publication is available on the web or at your District Extension Office.