Lebanon Crop Management Video


30 November 2011

2011 Crop Production Lessons learned

Del Voight – Penn State Extension

Each season there is much to be learned about corn production regardless of your experience. This season proved to be another interesting season. Here are some lessons I learned this season.

A few fields this spring many growers "mudded" in some corn, I was sure those stands would have a lot of issues from compaction. One field plot where we compared tilled to no tilled really demonstrated the ability of the corn to grow through problems. I learned that even though the populations dropped substantially the yields remained high. The no till outperformed the tilled area simply because the ground most likely was firmer during the planting period and thus had plants with less stress than the tilled area. The lesson here is that no till provides more benefits than just time savings and this year it meant a lot to yield by allowing growers to get onto soils that are firmer than if tilled. This is even evident now at harvest with many no till fields being harvested while tilled fields remain due to the soil not allowing equipment on the area.

Another lesson was on nitrogen loss. At the time of this writing our area received about 70 inches of rain compared to about 30 inches this same time. That enormous amount of rain really cleaned out the soils warehouse of nitrogen. I looked at several stalk N tests from fields that produced over 200 bu/acre of dry corn that were in the single digits. Most times you would like to see these levels at 1500ppm and I was observing 10ppm this indicates a deficient plant which should result in decrease yields. This was not the case in some fields that received both manure N and commercial N applications. The lesson here is that using manure and other sources of N seemed to allow for more N uptake overtime while relying solely on commercial N really resulted in a lot of it being washed down the creeks. With the high price of fertilizer many growers hauled manure in place of commercial fertilizer. I observed many fields that the producer had applied adequate manure to provide corn with its needs. However, with the early season rains, much of the N was lost for a host of reasons. I found the Chlorophyll meter to be a valuable tool this season to assist in making N side dress decisions. Many growers ended up putting a large amount of N on the corn even though the grower calculated they would have enough. Further potassium (a non mobile nutrient) showed its effects this year with that tell tale sign of deficiency of yellowing from the outside of the leaf toward the midrib. The lesson was that now more than ever a fertility plan needs to be in place. This includes a current soil test, and the knowledge that commercial fertilizer, while it is high in price, cannot be left out of the management plan in many cases. With respect to N, be sure there is enough there for the crop and let the plant tell you if more is required by using the meter and then following the recommendations.

Another lesson deals with pest behavior. I was primed for more widespread stinkbug issues. We had seen signs from last year that this could be a year to watch for stink bugs. I can count on my hand the few fields that we had to treat this year as opposed to last season's widespread outbreak. My feeling is that with the tremendous amount of rainfall that this must have affected the ability of the stink bug to really get a foothold this season to limit widespread infestations to our crops. The lesson here is that pest behavior is really tied to weather and extreme fluctuations as we witnessed with the rain this year certainly affect pest behaviors.
A forth lesson is within my research plots I had to use a field that was in soybeans last season and I put one of my soybean plots into this area. The impact of rotation of soybeans to soybeans was apparent at harvest. My plots in the soybeans to soybean area were about 10 bu/acre lower than the same bean field bordering that was corn to soybeans planted the same day and with the same variety. If that was not enough, the diseased soybeans as pictured were pronounced in the soybean to soybean plots with easy visual difference between the two fields. The lesson here is avoiding rotations of soybeans to soybeans!

My final lesson came recently during harvest. I had a field of soybeans that had 9 inches of snowfall on it. Within a week we were combining a test plot in the field. I was thinking the beans would have really shattered from the sudden change from wet to dry conditions. To my surprise we had a little over 60 bu/acre and little shattering. It was interesting to see the final result. A field just down the road harvested a month earlier was running about 73 bu/acre and this field was little over 60 bu/acre. I would guess we lost about an addition 10bu/acre from the delay in harvest timing. The lesson here is when the beans are ready the first time to get them out as quickly as possible.
Hopefully you too learned some lessons like this from observing your crops this year. I know that I could write for hours on this year. I only included a few. Now our challenge is to put these lessons to work as we plan for another successful year in 2012.


08 November 2011

Management Considerations for Post Flooding Soils

Del Voight - Penn State Extension - I wrote an article earlier with some of my thoughts regarding dealing with flooded soils. Here is more support for my thoughts from  Dr. Mahdi Al-Kaisi, Department of Agronomy The Iowa State University
Farmland in western Iowa and eastern Nebraska affected by flooding early this year and not planted to any crop has potential economic and soil environmental consequences if the soils are left unattended. Long-term damage to soil in areas of significant flooding need to be considered when planning for next season’s crop.
Several changes that take place when soil is under saturated conditions for an extended period of time can be carried into the next season. One of these potential changes is the change in biological health of the soil, with the greatest concern being when soil is left unplanted to any crop or cover crop. The existence of growing plants in such areas will help build up the microbial community in the root zone, which is essential to nutrient cycling, especially phosphorous.

Biological, chemical and physical soil health

Flooded soil may experience what is called “post flood syndrome,” similar to the fallow syndrome, where the land is left unplanted to any crop for the entire season. Flooded soils will encounter problems caused by the reduction of soil arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM) fungi colonization rates next growing season.

The AM fungi are colonized around the root systems of crops in a mutually beneficial (symbiotic) relationship. The fungi benefits from the host plant roots, the crop benefits from the increased nutrient uptake zone developed by the fungal hyphae (threads that make up the mycelium of fungi). Unplanted flooded areas can potentially be affected next season due to the absence of a root system that is essential to maintaining this microbial community that contributes to nutrient cycling.
In addition to potential biological changes that will be caused by flooding and the absence of active root system, there are some other chemical and physical changes that can occur when soil is flooded and left without any growing crop. Most of the chemical changes will be induced by temporary changes in oxidation and reduction conditions. However, physical-chemical-biological changes in soil such as aggregate stability, soil structure, pH, etc., can be significant, especially if there is no growing crop. 

Measures to manage previously flooded soils

Research documents that growing plants such cover crops, row crops and even weeds can increase the AM recolonization and ultimately the availability of phosphorous, which is the most affected nutrient due to reduction in mycorrhizae population. The following are a few management aspects need to be considered:
Land Leveling and Sand Cleaning – Sand cleaning depends on the depth of accumulation.
  • Few inches (i.e. 2-4 inches) can be incorporated in soil using normal field operations.  Otherwise, minimum soil disturbance is advisable to promote even weed growth till next spring.
  • If sand is up to 6 inches deep, then moldboard plow to a depth twice the sand depth to incorporate.
  • Sand 8-24 inches, it is advisable to consider spreading to areas with less sand and incorporate with special deep tillage equipment. However, it is advisable not to move sand to fill lower or severally eroded areas in the field without proper top soil to cover the sand.
  • Sand above 24 inches deep, evaluate cost of removing sand or stockpile to decide whether to remove the sand.
  • In case of severe erosion and deep cuts, top soil from surrounding fields should be used to fill such areas.
Soil Testing
  • Soil testing should be conducted after any land leveling is done.
  • Soil samples should not be collected immediately after soils dry, and may need to be collected in the spring.
  • Need to allow time for P reactions after soils aerate.
  • Potassium (K) deficiency can occur due to soil compaction.
  • Soil tests could increase from sediment deposition.
Cover Crop
  • Use a cover crop immediately after soil dries to promote growth of microorganisms that are essential for nutrient cycling.
  • Planting conditions should provide good soil seed contact for cover crop success.
  • Consider overwintering cover crops to provide additional benefits of continuous growth in the spring prior to planting.
  • When planting soybean, as a precaution seed should be inoculated with Bradyrhizobium japonicum to ensure nodulation and N fixation.
  • AM fungi inoculation of soil is not feasible.
  • Once soils become aerobic, soil microflora will recover naturally.
  • Corn growing on flooded soils showed purple leaves that were disappeared in a week.
  • Flooded fields with weeds or without tillage showed less purpling than those tilled to control weeds.
  • Fields with high manure application history (i.e., feedlots) showed no adverse effect for flooded soils on crop.
  • Crops planted after a fallow/flood period grew poorly.
  • P deficiency symptoms in crops – for corn it is slow early growth and purple coloration.
  • Flooded soils may have normal P test level and low AM population.
  • To alleviate P deficiency, high banded P rates needed – twice or more than the normal recommended rate.

03 November 2011

Penn State Extension- Crop Management Team Statewide Resource locations

Del Voight Penn State Extension
Above represent the current team member locations. In areas where less support is evident growers should call the nearest location to gain agronomic guidance or diagnostic services.

2011 Corn Trait Genetics and Refuge

Del Voight - Penn State Extension

Here is a nice layout via John Rowehl of the different genetic packages and thier refuge requirements and plans are being made for the 2012 season.

Cover Crop -Field Walk

Del Voight- Penn State Extension
We are planning several field walks for growers to check out some cover crop options. Here is the flyer for those that might be interested to check out. The Lebanon site on November 21st will feature the Randy Ziegler Farm.  Randy has been using cover crops for 10 years now and has seen his organic matters on his berks shale soils go from 1.5% to over 3% OM that he attributes to no till and the use of cover crops.  The field day will start at 10 and end at 12 pm. Here is the agenda for the Ziegler Crop Walk.
Fall Cover Crop Field Walks
10am- Welcome and Ziegler Farm update
10:30am Cover Crop Project overview and preliminary observations - Ron Hoover Penn State Extension
11:30am Seasonal Update and Soil Management Issues - Del Voight - Penn State Extension
12:00pm Adjourn/Evaluation and discussion.
Mon Nov 21, 10am-noon
Lebanon County,
79 Wildflower Lane, Fredericksburg
Contact Del Voight – 717-270-4391 with your plans to attend. The day of the event if you need direcitons call 717 821 0699
Randy Zeigler Farm