Stine’s Ask the Agronomist blog is your source to the latest information from our expert team, including advice and insight on field practices, product recommendations, planting and harvest updates, new technologies, crop management, innovative research and information about how to keep your farm operation running smoothly year round. 

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    Anthracnose Leaf Blight: What You Need to Know

    June 20, 2019

    Posted by Todd Schomburg in Crop Management

    Many growers have approached our sales team lately about anthracnose leaf blight — a disease that targets corn at higher rates after wet weather conditions, much like we’ve experienced this spring. Growers are questioning what, if anything, needs to be done to prevent the disease from affecting their yields. If you suspect anthracnose leaf blight, here are some symptoms to help you pinpoint the disease and recommendations on how to manage it.

    What is Anthracnose Leaf Blight?
    Anthracnose leaf blight is a disease caused by the fungal pathogen Colletotrichum graminicola. The disease overwinters on corn residue, so growers may notice it more in corn-on-corn situations, especially if they detected it in their fields the previous year. The disease can also thrive in no-till or reduced-tillage fields, and occurs at higher rates during very wet weather conditions or prolonged days with rain, soil moisture and high humidity, followed by high heat. The disease is known to spread by splashing rain and wind.

    Anthracnose leaf blight appears on the leaf surface as irregular or oval-shaped tannish/brown colored lesions with a darker margin (brown to purple). The lesions typically start on the bottom leaves before working their way up the plant. In severe infections, the lesions grow together to form large patches of chlorotic (yellow) or necrotic (dead) leaf material. As the disease progresses through the end of the growing season, the disease can cause top die-back. This is detected by black lesions on the outer stalk tissue behind the leaf sheaths that kill off the stalk and leaves above the ears. Depending on how far long the grain-filling process has progressed, top die-back can affect kernel development and overall yield.

    Another thing to look for are lesions on the stalk that are similar in nature to those described on the leaves. If lesions are spotted on the stalk, this may be related to anthracnose stalk rot. If you suspect anthracnose stalk rot, we recommend splitting open the stalk to check on the pith. If the pith has brownish colored areas around the nodes and appears to be rotting, you may have anthracnose stalk rot.

    While anthracnose leaf blight does not typically result in long-term damage to corn, in areas that are already susceptible or impacted by other diseases, the addition of anthracnose leaf blight can be devastating to plant development and grain fill. This is especially true if the disease results in die-back or if stalk rot is detected. The best way to reduce the chances of your crops contracting anthracnose leaf blight is to use resistant hybrids. Stine has a number of different corn options for growers to help tackle this disease, some of which have excellent ratings against anthracnose, including Stine 9401-0, 9434-11 and 9814–20 brand corn.

    Growers can also use tillage to bury infected stalks at the end of the season or consider harvesting early when other disease are present. There are also fungicides available specifically to help prevent anthracnose leaf blight outbreaks.

    For more information on anthracnose leaf blight development in corn, contact your local extension office or Stine agronomist.


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    Soybean Rolling: Does It Work?

    June 13, 2019

    Posted by Stine Seed in Crop Management

    A lesser-known crop management practice is making some waves in the row crop business. More growers in the Midwest are using soybean rolling as a best practice on their farm. We’ve heard from a handful of growers recently questioning the practice and its effect on yields in soybean crops. Soybean rolling is becoming increasingly popular in areas like South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa to help manage rocky soils. Here’s what we know about the practice.

    What is it?
    According to the University of Minnesota Extension, rolling soybeans is when “large rolling drums are pulled across the soil.” These drums are said to exert a force of three pounds per square inch. The rollers are typically used before planting or after emergence between the V1 and V3 trifoliate stages in soybeans for a few reasons, including:  

    1. Harvestability. The practice pushes troublesome rocks below the surface so that when harvest comes around, growers can place the combine head at a lower level to ensure more pods are captured. This practice also helps prevent rock-related combine damage and downtime caused by equipment breakdown. It can also help crush other elements in the soil, such as corn rootballs or soil clods, to help smooth the seedbed for harvest.
    1. Plant development. Rollers are increasingly being used to encourage additional node and pod sets. When the roller runs through a field after emergence, its impact puts extra stress on the soybean plants, which may seem like a negative outcome, but some believe it actually encourages the plant to produce additional nodes, which in turn produce additional pods. According to the Illinois Soy Advisor, “On a soybean plant, the growing point is at the top of the plant. This growing point exerts apical dominance over the plant and limits node set and branching. Break the growing point and you sever apical dominance, perhaps resulting in more nodes and pods.”

    Farm Journal explored this strategy in a multi-year study. One thing the study noted is that for this strategy to work, the plants needs to break above the cotyledons to ensure the plant survives, branches and creates additional growing points. They note, “Your ultimate window of opportunity to use a roller to stress soybean plants for potential yield gains is between V1 and V3 growth stages…At this stage, the plant is more pliable, you can roll it or push it over and it still has the ability to bounce back.”

    Disadvantages of this practice center around injury to the soybean plants. Once you get to the later stages of plant development, the plants become less flexible, making them more susceptible to damage. Other disadvantages include negative effects on the soil, such as erosion and runoff, and water infiltration caused by the moisture setting into the areas where the rollers compact the soil.

    Is it worth the investment?
    After you rent/purchase the equipment and factor in fuel and labor, some experts say that the costs associated with the practice outweigh the small yield advantages that growers may experience. In fact, a three-year, multi-site study conducted by the University of Minnesota Extension found that rolling soybeans at or before the V3 stage produced no significant yield or seed quality advantages to offset the cost of the operation.

    If you’re considering soybean rolling on your farm, consult a local extension office before you take the next step. There are a number of best practices that need to be followed to ensure that plants survive soybean rolling and that soil structure isn’t compromised.

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    Crop Progress Update: What We Know, What We’re Hearing

    June 06, 2019

    Posted by Stine Seed in Planting

    USDA Update
    The latest Crop Progress Report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) highlights just how far behind planting and emergence are this year. Of the 18 states that planted 92 percent of the 2018 corn acreage, only 67 percent of corn has been planted so far this year compared to the 2014–2018 average of 96 percent. Of the corn acres planted, only 46 percent have emerged — 38 percent behind the average at this time in 2018.

    Of the 18 states that planted 95 percent of the soybean acreage in 2018, only 39 percent of soybeans have been planted to date. The 2014–2018 average for this time of year is 79 percent, and last year at this time we had 86 percent of the soybean crop in. Of soybeans emerged, we’re 46 percent behind last year’s percentage and 37 percent behind the 2014–2018 average, with only 19 percent of soybeans emerged so far this year.

    States seeing the biggest slowdown in planting are Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and South Dakota. In Indiana, both corn and soybean planting are 63 percent behind their 2014–2018 averages. In Illinois, corn planting is 53 percent behind and soybean planting is 63 percent behind the average. In South Dakota, soybeans are 68 percent behind compared to the average and corn is still 52 percent behind. In Ohio, corn planting is 57 percent behind schedule and soybean planting is 58 percent behind.

    Stine Update
    Probably the number one reason we’re seeing this slowdown in these regions is related to the soil type and the precipitation received. Many growers have been able to get crops in on their better grounds, but their more difficult grounds (clay soils, for example), are still holding a lot of water, making it difficult to finish planting. We’re also seeing a lot of flooding in areas like Missouri and Arkansas, where rainfall from the north has made its way down the Missouri, Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers, causing major flooding and forcing growers out of some fields while completely wiping out others.  

    “It’s a frustrating time. Right when growers around the Midwest start seeing a drying trend, allowing for some field work to ramp up, more thunderstorms and rain appear in the forecast. We seem to make it two steps forward and one step back in the drying process,” notes Stine Corn Technical Agronomist Mike Smith. “We’ve gotten to that place where growers are beginning to have those worst-case-scenario discussions. Conversations are quickly turning to changing soybean maturities or swapping out corn for a cover crop to get something in the soil this year.”

    In the southern regions, soybeans are still OK to be planted at their normal maturities through mid-July. Consider an earlier maturity soybean as you move north because the annual frost dates can play a role in a variety's ability to mature in time for full yield potential. 

    Before making any changes in your field this year, consult with your local Stine sales representative to discuss your options.