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Darin Lickfeldt, Ph.D.

Darin is a certified professional agronomist and a U.S. Army veteran who grew up in a farming community in Southern Michigan. Throughout his career, he has helped to support farmers in technical agronomy roles, including as a technology product manager, a research scientist and a director of technical development at some of the largest and fastest growing agriculture and crop protection companies in the industry.

With the weather events of late 2018 and early 2019, many farmers found themselves planting corn much later than usual, some even into July. For those chopping their corn for silage, this can be a big concern.  There are two peaks in forage quality: pollination and 50 percent milkline. The pollination peak is generally too wet to go in the silo, so the second peak is the one we use more often. At 50 percent milkline, whole-plant dry matter content is good for chopping and ensiling (32-36 percent dry matter, 64-68 percent  moisture).  So, what do you need to know as you look at getting those silage acres harvested before the first frost? Here are a few things to keep on your radar: What If Your Silage Corn Was Planted Late? Forage quality doesn’t change much between April-June planted corn and July planted corn, around 5-8 percent; however, milk-per-acre levels can decrease by up to 92 percent in July planted corn.    Getting the correct moisture for fermentation can be more important than forage yield. Since the wettest part of the plant is the lower stalk, raising the cutter bar 12 inches can lead to a 3-4 percent decrease in moisture. This can improve forage quality, but decrease yield and milk per acre.  What If Your Silage Corn Didn’t Pollinate? If pollination does not occur, a corn plant will have a higher sugar content, higher crude protein, higher crude fiber and higher than normal digestible fiber. However, overall yield significantly decreases. Without pollination, green stalks will be 75-90 percent water, making them too wet to ensilage. If you do chop this corn for silage, be sure to check whole plant moisture. What If Your Silage Corn Did Pollinate…But You’re Worried About Frost?  If corn plants go through frost before they reach dough stage, the whole plant moisture may not drop enough for fermentation. If you’re looking at a frost before dough stage, cut the corn earlier and wilt it in the field to a more desirable dry matter content. If frost occurs during the dough stage but before 50 percent milkline, field dry until whole-plant moisture drops to 64-68 percent. The more mature the kernel gets prior to frost, the shorter the drying period. Read This Next: F2F Genetics Network in the Field: Q&A with Minnesota Dairy Farmer Randy Smith (3 min read) Sources:  https://agcrops.osu.edu/newsletter/corn-newsletter/2019-29/harvesting-late-planted-corn-silage http://wisccorn.blogspot.com/2019/08/B106.html http://wisccorn.blogspot.com/2019/08/B105.html

Zinc may be a micronutrient , but a lack of it can have a significant impact on your corn crop. Zinc plays a key role in chlorophyll production, carbohydrate metabolism and cell elongation, which impacts leaf size and early ear development. In many cases, the soil test recommendations for nutrients are dated and haven’t been revised since the 1960s. But so much has changed in row crop production over the last 50 years. If your soil test says 2 ppm of zinc is sufficient for your corn crop, you should read that with skepticism. I've seen a corn crop respond positively to a zinc application even when the soil test said the 2 ppm zinc supply was adequate.  Spotting a Zinc Shortfall in Your Corn Crop Zinc deficiencies in corn will normally appear as yellow, white or beige streaks between the veins of the uppermost leaves. Zinc deficiency is common to see in corn prior to V8, and by tassel, many deficiencies are no longer apparent because soil microbes have mineralized more zinc in the root zone. On soils with high phosphorus levels, the deficiency can become even more apparent.  When a deficiency results in symptoms we can see, some yield has probably already been lost. However, it’s not too late to make some corrections to this year’s crop by adding a zinc source to a broadcast herbicide or fungicide application. Leaves from the upper portion of the plant can be sampled and sent to the lab to determine if zinc deficiency is present. Collect a leaf from each of 15-20 plants, air dry in the shade, and wrap in paper prior to sending to lab. The youngest collared leaf is the best choice, since zinc isn’t mobile in plants and the uppermost leaves will have the lowest zinc levels. Going Foliar with Zinc In corn, there can be short-term benefits to correcting for deficiencies when a micronutrient is applied to crop foliage. Foliar-applied sources of zinc need to be water soluble. They should be applied to leaf surfaces in such a way as to minimize runoff; once runoff occurs, you’ll have soil-applied zinc - which won’t help this year’s crop.  Zinc should create a greening effect within 5-10 days after application. This effect will only be on tissue that received the zinc application, so foliar coverage without runoff is best.  A 20 gpa spray volume is a good goal. Foliar sources of zinc generally come as a sulfate, lignosulfonate or a chelate form. All three of these forms are water soluble and readily release zinc to the plant.  Zinc sulfate or zinc lignosulfonate forms will work best in a foliar application . The chelated forms will generally cost more and are more suitable for a soil application. Avoid zinc oxides and zinc sucrates. They are not water soluble, and the zinc won’t be available to this year’s crop. A foliar application should apply 0.5 to 1 lb zinc per acre in the late vegetative or early reproductive growth stages.  For future crops, a good strategy is to map deficiencies in this year’s crop and take corrective action with soil applied zinc at much greater application rates this fall or early next spring. Since zinc isn’t mobile in soils, a banded application is also a good practice. Read this next: Micronutrients are Actually No Small Thing Join FBN's hosts along with unbiased experts and independent FBN farmers across the U.S. and Canada to learn about the most recent data-backed network trends and insights to help you level the playing field and keep your farm profitable. Listen & Subscribe On Your Favorite Podcast Manager Alandmanson ,  Zinc-deficient maize plants ,  CC BY-SA 4.0

One of the biggest questions we are currently hearing from farmers across the country involves bifenthrin insecticide. Bifenthrin is an important tool in the control of corn rootworm, wireworms and grubs, to name a few, so it makes sense that you’d want to consider applying it early, ahead of any insect pressure in your new corn crop. There are a number of common and effective insecticides to choose from, and one many farmers prefer is bifenthrin insecticide. Capture® LFR® is one of the most common bifenthrin formulations used for this, but some farmers have also had success with generic formulations, such as Bifenture® LFC and Seize® LFC. Can you add bifenthrin insecticide to your in-furrow liquid fertilizer application? The simple answer is this: Only a bifenthrin designated with LFR or LFC, meaning liquid fertilizer compatible, can be used with your liquid fertilizer. Read this next: Premix versus Tank Mix Ag Chemicals Are all bifenthrin formulations the same? Here’s the key takeaway: Not all bifenthrin formulations are the same. While the bifenthrin label may say it can be mixed with fertilizer, that doesn't mean it can be mixed with all fertilizers. That LFR/LRC designation is important. If you overlook that detail, you may find yourself grinding to a halt when the adverse chemical reaction leads to gelling and plugging issues. Bifenthrin products that are not LFR or LFC (such as Bi-Dash2E , for example) should be jar tested prior to tank mixing with liquid fertilizer on a large scale. If the product label says, "do not apply in starter fertilizer," a jar test with starter fertilizer is pointless because to apply this way is an off-label use. How to jar test bifenthrin products As an example of how to do a jar test, we’ll use Bi-Dash 2E, which has corn rootworm control when applied in furrow at 0.3 fluid ounces per 1,000 ft of row. That correlates to 5.22 oz. per acre for 30 inch rows, and 4.35 oz per acre on 36 inch rows.* To do a jar test for compatibility with 10-34-0 starter fertilizer (assuming an in-furrow application of 5 gallon per acre), combine the following in a clear quart jar: For 30 inch rows: 20 oz. of fertilizer + 1 teaspoon of Bi-Dash 2E For 36 inch rows: 25 oz. of fertilizer + 1 teaspoon of Bi-Dash 2E Seal the jar and shake well. Let stand for at least 30 minutes and observe if any separation of products occurs. Look for any floating product and settling of the product. If the combination stays in suspension together for this extended length of time, they are likely to also be compatible in larger volumes. Compatibility can also be improved with tank agitation or by using warm water, if you have those options. *Many types of fertilizers are used as starters and may react differently so a jar test is highly recommended to avoid any mixing issues. Adjust quantities in a jar test when using different Bi-Dash 2E rates or in furrow gallonage, or a different non-LFR or LFC formulation. Read this next: Do This Before You Step Foot in the Sprayer (4 min read) Using a Dosatron® pump system to deliver bifenthrin products with liquid fertilizer Another option to use a bifenthrin product would be to set up a chemical mixing system or pump system on your planter. It provides a convenient way to apply the Bi-Dash 2E directly into the seed furrow with no dilution or mixing in the sprayer tank. Remember that it will take some time to set up on your planter due to the required plumbing with the system, so it is not necessarily a quick fix. Also, these kinds of pumps do require maintenance similar to other equipment to ensure your applications are done correctly. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS. It is a violation of federal and state/provincial law to use any pesticide product other than in accordance with its label. The distribution, sale and use of an unregistered pesticide is a violation of federal and/or state law and is strictly prohibited. We do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided on this page or which is provided by us in any form. It is your responsibility to confirm prior to purchase and use that a product is labeled for your specific purposes, including, but not limited to, your target crop or pest and its compatibility with other products in a tank mix. Capture® and LFR® are trademarks of FMC Corporation or an affiliate. Bifenture® is a trademark of United Phosphorus, Inc. Seize® is a trademark of Sharda USA LLC. Dosatron is a trademark of Dosatron International.

As we look at the past few weeks of wild weather across the country, from “bomb cyclones” to pouring rain and gusty winds, it’s easy to wonder when farmers will get to plant the 2019 crop. Much of the Corn Belt has saturated soils that have delayed all farming practices. The good news is that means there should be adequate soil moisture to germinate the seed and get the crop off to a great start. Soil Moisture and Planting Depth Because of the soil moisture, there may be a tendency for some to plant corn and soybeans at a shallower depth than usual. Remember that corn requires a minimum of a 1.5 inch depth to allow the first set of nodal roots to establish below the soil surface. If planted at a shallower depth, standability and nutrient uptake could be limited, possibly impacting yields.  Soybeans are more forgiving than corn when it comes to planting depth. For beans, a 1 inch depth is adequate. It is important to note, however, that soybeans may be more susceptible to crusting problems. And for both corn and soybeans, planting into soils that are too wet can result in sidewall compaction, which can limit root growth, exposing seed in an unclosed furrow and creating seedling growth issues. Soil Temperatures For many, soil temperatures are also approaching ideal conditions. In some areas, soil temperatures are still just below the 50 degrees Fahrenheit needed for corn production. But once those soil temperatures reach the required levels, corn and soybean planting will be off and running! Delayed planting may cause less yield loss than planting into less than optimum conditions. Each field must be considered on a case by case decision to determine when planting should be done. Cold, but getting warmer While this has been one of the coldest springs on record, it will warm up. There’s no reason to switch corn or soybean varieties to shorter season choices yet. Switching to a shorter season corn hybrid can lower yield potential more than a later planting of the currently planned hybrid. Continue with your current herbicide program. Weeds also grow more slowly with the cooler temperatures. And most importantly, stay safe. When the weather cooperates and planting gets underway, farmers will be putting in extended hours. I am always amazed how much corn can be planted in such a short amount of time. Farm accidents can increase with such long hours of work. Remember to get adequate rest and stay alert during the upcoming planting season. Operating large equipment requires your full concentration. Your family, friends and neighbors will all appreciate your patience and keeping yourself healthy and safe during planting and throughout the season.

It looks like Mother Nature has thrown us a curveball across the Corn Belt. Depending on your location, many farmers are seeing saturated soils that have been frozen for 60 days or more, and are now covered with 4-18 inches of snow. Meanwhile, others have standing water in their fields, with many rivers out of their banks and flooding adjacent farms. In a “normal” weather scenario, by mid-March many of you would be prepping to plant within 30 days. But 2019 has been anything but normal. We’re all getting eager for the 2019 growing season to begin. Here are a few questions we’ve heard from FBN farmer-members: 1. How have soil conditions affected the fertilizer that was applied in the fall? Across the board, last year’s weather reduced the amount of fall preparation that was completed. Wet soils caused delayed harvest and reduced cover crop planting. So for many, fall fertilizer applications happened less than intended. In many cases where soils didn't freeze early and stay frozen, nitrogen that was applied last fall probably leached below the root zone. Phosphorus should have remained in place if it was incorporated; however, if it was left on the soil surface, it may have washed away to low or off-target areas. Cover crops may show less growth (and thus less benefit) than normal due to the cool temperatures you may have experienced. So, if you were worried because you missed out on those fall plans for fertilization and seeding cover crops, you actually could have saved money. 2. Will delayed planting impact yields? Delayed planting dates are always a concern. Normally, earlier planted crops return the highest yields, but that can vary greatly in different genetics. And right now, it is too early to tell when soil temperatures and conditions will allow farms to be planted. Right now, it’s best to stay with your current hybrids and varieties. Switching to shorter season options may lower your yield potential. And, if you’re tempted to hurry into the field, remember that planting when soil conditions are too wet will cause soil compaction in wheel tracks and sidewall compaction in the seed furrow. 3. Will germination and seedling growth be reduced from wet and cool soils? It’s certainly possible. Here are a few reasons why: In saturated soils, the planted seeds will imbibe the water, swell and attempt to develop into a seedling. If soil continues to be saturated, the seed may rot and die prior to plant’s emergence from the soil. Cold water can result in the seed cell membranes becoming rigid and possibly rupturing. Symptoms are slow seedling growth, aborted radicals, corkscrewing and small fragile root systems. Additional rains after planting can cause surface compaction and crusting, making emergence even more variable, resulting in poor populations or uneven stands. Water saturated soils are deficient in oxygen. Without oxygen present in the soil, seedlings can experience poor root development, lessened leaf expansion and lack of photosynthesis. Saturated soils also result in significant N loss by denitrification. Later emerging plants have to compete against larger plants for sunlight and nutrients, and this will result in lower yield potential. 4. Will disease pressure increase? Seedling blights, such as fusarium, rhizoctonia and pythium, are most common in poorly drained and saturated soils. Fungicide seed treatments are an important consideration with these environmental conditions, but don’t expect them to be a cure-all if you plant into poor conditions.  Seedling plants that are submerged for 24-48 hours are subject to Crazy Top Fungus and Common Smut infection. These two diseases will make their appearance later in the growing season. Takeaway: Be patient. You aren’t alone. Most farmers feel they are behind right now. Stay with your current cropping plan. Planting 10 days later should have very little effect on yield potential, so wait for field conditions to be favorable. T ake advantage of seed treatments to protect seed from disease and insects.  After planting, scout your fields often to check for germination, establishment and any other emergence issues. Remember, this wild weather can sometimes have a few positives. Soils contain a lot of available moisture, so seeds that are less dependent on rainfall to begin emergence. Soil moisture will also be available later into the growing season in fine-textured soils. Compaction can be reduced by water penetration and freeze thaw cycles. Some insects have high mortality rates in wet soil conditions and after severe winters. Significant amounts of weed seed may have imbibed water and rotted. A late planting may stimulate the market for a commodity price increase, providing a better marketing opportunity. Read this next: Seed Treatment Basics: Do You Know What’s Being Added to Your Seed?