Keeping an eye on stalk quality

An Illinois-based agronomist says he has concerns about stalk quality in this year’s corn crop.

Nick Frederking is with AgriGold.  “Because we may have some restricted root growth in places that would limit nutrient and moisture uptake, or we have disease development early which would compromise some of the energy produced,” he says. 

He tells Brownfield it isn’t too early for farmers to monitor stalks ahead of harvest.  “I think there is a likelihood that if we continue to go through some of these dry conditions some of these corn plants, hybrid dependent, may start breaking down some of those energy reserves inside of that stalk a little earlier than we would normally see,” he says.  “If that would happen, now we may need to star talking about harvest priority based on the integrity.”

Later in the growing season farmers can check stalk quality by using the push or pinch test.

This can be done by walking through the field and randomly selecting a minimum of 100 plants, push the plant tops away from you approximately 30 degrees from vertical. For the pinch test, growers can pinch or squeeze the internodes of the lower stalk between your thumb and first finger.  If the plants do not snap back to vertical when released or the stalk is crushed when pinched, the stalk may have been compromised by a stalk rot disease.  And if more than 10% of plants exhibit stalk rot symptoms, it is recommended to harvest affected fields first to reduce the chance of plants lodging prior to harvest.

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